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The Original Treatise of P. Eusebius Niereinberg, S. J. 


fessor in the Archiepiscopal Seminary at Cologne. 

front tfts T^onrtfy T|M$$fr i^rman 


/it/i the consent of the Author and the permission of the Superior. 



Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, 




Coloniae die 25 Aprilis 1SG4. 

Vicarius Archiepiscopi m spir. gen. de niandut 

DR. Buoix. 


ion of the 


.... I very cheerfully add my approbation to that of the lit. llc-v. I- 1 . 
Abbot, and pi-ay that the blessing- of Ood may descend upon your lovinu 

Believe me, etc., 


Bp of Vincenne*. 
Indianapolis, Ind.. Dec. . iOtli, 1885. 



" Of making many books there is no end." True, but 
if the world multiplies books without number for indiffer 
ent and evil purposes, why should the children of Holy 
Church be less zealous in propagating books, which are 
written for the noblest of ends, and upon subjects of the 
highest interest and utility ? If learned men of the present 
age make such great endeavors to popularize theories of 
natural science, why should not ministers of religion ply 
the pen in explaining and inculcating the supernatural 
truths of Divine revelation ? Among the teachings of 
Revelation there is one particularly of supreme importance 
and beauty ; that, namely, on Divine Grace. Yet in the 
English, no less than in the German language, there exist 
but few works on this subject, and fewer still that are 
suited to the capacity of the people ! The work, which is 
hereby offered to the English community, has for its au 
thor a very prominent Catholic theologian of Germany. 
It is written with his habitual depth and fertility of 
thought, thoroughness of method, aptness of illustration, 
and extensive erudite learning. Its style breathes the au 
thor s own warm admiration for the subject he treats, 
and thus lends an additional charm and value to his ex 
position. All these reasons have determined the transla 
tor, though little confident in his own ability, to venture 
to place the book into the hands of English-speaking Chris 
tians. He has throughout confined himself, as much as 
possible, to the letter of the text. The author, when kind 
ly giving his permission for the translation, asked to be 

1 Eccl. xii. 12. 

4 Translator s Preface. 

recommended to the prayers of the reader. The translator 
humbly joins in this request, and hopes that this prayer 
may draw down some blessing of God upon his imperfect 

Feast of St. Francis Xavier? 1885. 



The present work follows close upon two other similar 
works, which I have recently published, because it is in 
timately connected with them and is their essential com 

In " Nature and Grace " I have endeavored to develop 
the doctrine of grace in a speculative manner, and by the 
publication of Casini s " Quid est homo " I wished to furnish 
the positive basis and support for the speculative treatise. 
It only remained then to issue also a popular treatise on 
the doctrine of grace and to explain its practical import 
ance. The material for this was given in the two works 

In an article of the Katliolik (Mayence, Dec., 1860), 
I have already called attention to the immense practical 
importance of the doctrine of grace, especially of the su 
pernatural element in this doctrine. I have, at the same 
time, pointed out how in the pulpit and in literature this 
subject had not received the consideration due to it. It 
is, indeed, a matter of much surprise that, in the whole 
range of our literature, there is scarcely one popular dog 
matical or ascetical work, which treats ex professo, or even 
with some thoroughness and completeness, of grace ; and 
yet there is scarcely any subject more important, more 
beautiful and fruitful than that of grace. I will dwell no 
longer on this point, as I hope that the reading of this 
little work may at least prove that my undertaking has 
been both thankful and timely. 

Perhaps many have been deterred from a similar under- 

6 Author s Preface. 

taking by the difficulties attending it, and I should also 
have been so deterred, had I not considered the present ur 
gent want of such a work to indicate a call of God and the 
assurance of His assistance. Furthermore, I found an able 
preparatory work, which I could take for a basis, the book, 
namely, of the well-known P. Eusebius Nieremberg, " Pe 
pretio inestimabili divinae gratia?. " 

To my regret I could not find the original or even a com 
plete translation, though I sought it for years. I found 
only a very imperfect abridgment of the work with the 
title, k< Cogitationes solidae de pretio inestimabili divinae 
gratis," which was published at Wiirzburg as a New Years 
gift of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin. I therefore could 
not think of translating Nieremberg, especially since the 
original, too, which I had seen many years ago, did not 
carry out the dogmatical explanation, from a supernatural 
point of view, as carefully and thoroughly as I should 
have wished. 

Nevertheless, I supposed I could do nothing better than 
to follow Nieremberg as closely as possible ; I have there 
fore, on the whole, retained the division of the work, trans - 
placed but few chapters, and also added but few, viz.: 
Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, in the third book. Chapter 5, in the 
fourth book, Chapters 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, in the fifth book. 
Much matter, however, which was not so pertinent to the 
subject, I have omitted. Furthermore, I have taken over 
much material, sometimes entire, in free translation, par 
ticularly in the first and fourth book. 

The dogmatic exposition in most, as well as the 
practical application in many of the chapters, is either 
entirely or in great part my own work. I have also 
added nearly all the longer passages from the Fathers. The 
second and fifth book I have recast almost entirely from 
new material, and thus I may call two-thirds of the book 
my own production. 

If I, nevertheless, place Nieremberg s name at the head 
of the work, it is out of gratitude for this great and 

Author s Preface. 7 

holy man, to whom I am indebted for the leading ideas in 
the work, and to whose prayers I consider all the blessing 
attributable which Clod has bestowed upon it, or may in 
future bestow upon it. At the same time it may serve to 
re-introduce this man into Germany (to which he belonged 
by descent, though he lived and labored in distant Spain), 
and to call attention to his other ascetical writings, which 
are unduly neglected and ignored. 

Many readers will consider the teachings here proposed 
either too novel or too disputable to be used for the instruc 
tion of the people. But the principles from which we 
proceed are principles of faith, and all our propositions 
are at least the teachings of many holy Fathers, or the ap 
proved opinions of great theologians. In many places, 
where it was convenient, we have expressly demonstrated 
this, though generally we have omitted to do so, lest the book 
might receive too learned an appearance. He who desires 
a more complete demonstration, will find it partly in Casini s 
Quid est homo," in Habert s " Theologia Grsecornm 
Patrum de gratia," and especially in Suarez ^De gratia," 
whose approved teaching I followed in nearly all points. 

My general endeavor has been to render method and 
style as popular as possible, so that the book might be ac 
cessible not only to theological circles, but also to those of 
the people who are qualified to understand the supernat 
ural glories of grace, not so much by learning and science, 
as by the light of Divine grace and the docility of an ardent 
faith. This was required also by the practical end which 
I had in view, in common with Nieremberg, namely, to 
withdraw the hearts of men from the vanities of this world 
and to direct them to a higher, heavenly, supernat 
ural world, to inspire them with love for the Author of 
grace and His institution of it, to lead them to an ever 
closer attachment to the Church of Christ, to foster and 
cultivate Christian life, and especially to exhibit to Chris 
tians the abundant cause they have for rejoicing in tJieir 
hob/ religion. For the beauty and pride of the Catholic 

8 Authors Preface. 

faith consists precisely in this, that in the mysteries of 
grace it proposes to us an inestimably high elevation of 
our nature and an unspeakably intimate union with God. 

I should consider myself happy if I had contributed any 
thing toward the attainment of this end. I have at least 
the confidence that in this work pastors and teachers of 
the people may find a new and rich mine for the instruc 
tion of the people, which is scarcely yet opened, and that 
they may thus turn it to very profitable account, notwith 
standing its defects. A number of my friends, competent 
judges, who had formerly read the work, have confirmed 
me in this hope. May the Author of grace realize it 
through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin, the 
first-born daughter and Mother of grace, and especially, al 
so, through the intercession of the venerable P. Nieremberg, 
who in his time has defended and glorified the Immaculate 
Conception of Mary in as brilliant and magnificent a man 
ner as he has praised and proclaimed the glories of Divine 
. grace. 

COLOGNE, Feast of the Nativity of the 
Blessed Virgin, 1862. 



I have only to remark, that I have again subjected this 
work, which is especially dear to me, to a careful revision. 
In point of matter I found little to change, but the ex 
pression has in many places been rendered more clear and 

May the book, with the blessing of God, lead many read 
ers, in these troubled times, to be consoled and edified by 
the consideration of the glories and the blessedness of Di 
vine grace. 

COLOGNE, Feast of the Epiphany, 1885. 



Translator s Preface, . . 3 

Author s Preface to First Edition, . . 5 

Author s Preface to Fourth Edition, . . .9 

Introduction, . . . . 15 

FIIIST BOOK. Of the Nature of Grace. 

I. How deplorable it is that men should have so little re 
gard for grace, . .. . - . . 23 

II. Grace should be prized very highly, because it is infi 
nitely superior to all natural things, . .28 
III. Grace is still more sublime than miracles, . .32 
T V. We are elevated far above our nature by grace, . 37 " 
V. Grace is a participation in the uncreated Divine nature, 41 /- 
VI. The participation in the Divine nature is a supernatural 

similarity to it, . . . . . 47 Y 

VII. With the participation in the Divine nature grace con 
fers upon us the highest perfection, . .51 
VIII. Grace elevates man to the participation in the Divine 

cognition, to the immediate vision of Divine glory, 55 v 
IX. Grace makes us partakers of the sanctity of the Divine 

nature, . . . . . .61 

X. Grace gives us a new, higher nature, . . .65^ 

XT. Grace is in a certain sense infinite, : . . .70 

XII. Grace and the Incarnation of the Son of God, . 74 

XIII. Grace and the dignity of the Mother of God, . 81 

XIV. How much God Himself esteems Grace, 8(5 

1 2 Contents. 

SECOND BOOK. Of the Sublime and Incomprehensible Union 

uith God to which Grace introduces us. 


I. By grace we receive the person of the Holy Spirit into 

our soul, . . . . . .94 

II. The whole Blessed Trinity is introduced into our soul 

by grace, ...... 105 

III. By grace the Holy Ghost communicates to us His own 

life, 110 

IV. Grace makes us children of God, first by adoption, 118 

V. The Divine sonship Regeneration, . . . 127 

VI. The wonderful nourishment of the children of God, 136 

VII. Grace establishes the relation of a true friendship be 

tween God and ourselves, . ". . 146 

VIII. The ineffable love which God bears us, when we are 

in the state of grace, . . . .157 

IX. The heavenly beauty which grace confers upon the 

soul, . . . . . .163 

X. Grace makes our soul a true spouse of God, . .173 

XI. By grace we participate in the empire of God and His 

dominion over all things, . . .184 

XII. The exceedingly intimate union with God w^hich grace 

effects in us, . .. . . .190 

THIRD BOOK. Of the Effects and Fruits of Grace. 
I. Light, a symbol of grace, . . . . 203 

II. The wonderful power which grace has to destroy mortal 

sin in us, . . . . . 214 

III. Grace infuses into our hearts the supernatural Divine 

virtues, ...... 220 

IV. Supernatural Divine Faith, .... 226 
V. Supernatural Divine Hope, . . . . 234 

VI. Supernatural Divine Charity, .... 239 
VII. The supernatural moral virtues, . . . 247 

VIII. By grace we receive the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, 

which are accompanied by the Eight Beatitudes of 
Christ and the Fruits of the Holy Ghost, . 253 

IX. Sanctifying grace brings with it the supernatural actual 

graces of the Holy Ghost, . . . 263 

X. The infinite value which grace communicates to our 

works for meriting eternal glory, . . 272 

Contents. 1 3 


XL The inestimable privilege of grace, that by the works 
performed in it, we may render satisfaction for the 
punishment of sin deserved, . .. . . 284 

XII. By grace we enter into a wonderful communion of 

goods with Christ and the saints, . . 287 

XIII. The w r onderf ul power which grace manifests in the 

weakness of our nature, .... 293 

FOURTH BOOK. Of some other Effects and Prerogatives 

of Divine Grace. 

I. Grace makes us worthy in every respect of a special 

Divine Providence, . . . - . 301 

II. Grace enjoys the company of numerous hosts of angels, 307 

III. Outside of grace there is no true happiness in this world, 312 

IV. The grace of God makes us far happier than does the 

grace of man, ..... 320 

V. In grace we find the highest enlightenment, the truest 

liberty, and the greatest progress, . . 324 

VI. How much the angels esteem grace, . . . 332 

VII. We must have a greater esteem for grace in us than the 

angels and the saints of the Old Law, . . 338 

VIII. How the saints of the New Law valued grace, and how 

much they did for its sake, . . .341 

FIFTH BOOK. Of the Acquisition, Exercise, Increase and 
Preservation of Grace. 

I. The acquisition of grace, . . . .347 

II. Supernatural faith, the first preparation for the reception 

of grace, . . . . . .353 

III. The fear of God, the second preparation for the reception 

of grace, . . . . . .362 

IV. Supernatural hope in God, the third preparation for 

grace, . . . . . . 367 

V. Contrition, the fourth and last preparation for grace, 372 
VI. The supernatural life, which we must lead in the state 

of grace, . . . . .378 

VII. The exercise of supernatural love of God, . . 388 

VIII. The exercise of supernatural love of our neighbor, . 397 

IX. The exercise of supernatural humility and chastity, . 401 



X. Faith, the food of the life of grace, 
XI. The continual progress we must make in the supernatural 

life of grace, and the facility of such progress, 424 
XII. How careful we should be, not to stain and dishonor 

grace by venial sin, . 437 

XIII. The preservation of grace until the end. 


1. "All good things came to me together with her, and in 
numerable riches through her hands. She is an infinite 
treasure to men, which they that use, become the friends 
of God, being commended for the gifts of discipline. 1 

These beautiful words which the Book of Wisdom speaks 
in praise of the wisdom that comes from God, may also 
be applied to Divine grace. The true and heavenly wis 
dom of which Holy Scripture speaks, is, indeed, that super 
natural enlightenment which the sun of eternal wisdom 
infuses into our souls from the bosom of Divine light. 
This wisdom is itself a grace, or rather the most beautiful 
and glorious fruit of grace in our soul. 

When, therefore, St. John, in the beginning of his Gospel, 
wishes to express in a word the whole plenitude of the treas 
ures and gifts which the Son of God brought into this 
world at His Incarnation, he says : " We saw His glory, the 
glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace 
and truth. " 2 Grace again it is which the Apostle Paul, at the 
beginning and at the end of his Epistles, wishes the faith 
ful : " Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and 
from the Lord Jesus Christ." We do not hesitate, then, to 
say that grace is the most precious, and, since it contains 
all other gifts, is the only great good, which is the subject 
of the Gospel, that joyful heavenly message brought to 
this earth by the Son of God. By grace we are made true 
children of God and acquire the right to the possession of 
the highest gifts that God can bestow upon His creatures, 
even to the possession of God Himself, who wishes to be- 

1 Wisdom vii. 11, 14. 2 John i. 14. 

1 6 Introduction. 

come the inheritance of His children, with all His infinite 
glory and happiness. 

" Most great and precious promises" St. Peter tells us, 
" liatli God given us by Him; that by these yon may be 
made partakers of tlie Divine nature" They are most 
great, because they surpass all created things, be these ever 
so good and noble, and. precious, because they contain the 
best that God, in His omnipotence, can give us ; they are 
infinitely precious, as is the price paid for them, the blood 
of the Son of God. The prince of the Apostles indicates 
himself the reason of this greatness, when he adds : " that 
by these you may be made partakers of the Divine nature. 
Can there be anything greater for a creature than to be 
elevated from its natural lowliness and nothingness, to 
participate in the nature of the Creator and be associated 
with Him ? 

This one word expresses the whole greatness and glory 
of grace, and tells what a great and sublime mystery grace 
must be. Grace is that " mystery of Christ," of which the 
Apostle says : " Wliicli in oilier generations was not 
lenoivn to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy 
Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit. That the Gentiles shou Id 
~be fellow-lieirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of His 
promise in Christ Jesus ly the Gospel."* Grace is that 
mystery of which the same Apostle says, it hath not entered 
into the heart of man, but could be revealed to us by the 
Spirit of God, who searcheth all things, even the profound 
things of God. 3 The more grace is a mystery, the more 
concealed it is from our natural eye, the more incomprehen 
sible and ineffable it is ; the greater must appear to us its 
value, the higher its glory, and the more comprehensive its 

2. This sweet and sublime mystery is too little known 
even among Christians, although the teachings of Holy 
Scripture and the Holy Church sufficiently enlighten us 
about it, and the lack of this knowledge is the more lam- 

1 II. Peter i. 4. 2 Eph. ill. 4-6. 3 I. Cor. ii. 9, 10. 

Introduction. 1 7 

entable, as the knowledge of the doctrine of grace alone 
can lead us to understand and appreciate our exalted 
dignity, our great hopes, and the inexhaustible wealth 
of the merits of Christ. 

At the mention of the grace of God, we often represent 
to ourselves nothing but the restoration of God s favor, 
lost by sin, or such gifts of Divine love as will assist our 
weak nature in avoiding sin and in the practice of virtue. 
Certainly, forgiveness of sins and this protection and 
assistance must also be accounted effects of God s grace, 
but these effects alone do not constitute its highest 
value and its innermost nature. 

Forgiveness of sin is a grace on the part of God and re 
stores to us that benevolent love which God bestowed up 
on us before sin. But we must ask : Wliicli love did God 
bear us previous to our sin ; was it a love equal only to the 
worth of our human nature, or was it a greater, an ampler 
love, that gave additional beauty to our nature, and 
elevated it to the heart of God unto a fraternal union with 
His Divine Son ? 

Grace strengthens our weakened nature against the 
temptation to evil and in the performance of good works ; 
it facilitates the fulfilment of our duties and the attain 
ment of our last end. But here again the question pre 
sents itself : Does grace unite itself with man in his natu 
ral condition, and, by co-operating with his inborn virtue, 
assist and strengthen nature, does grace only temper na 
ture or does it elevate and transform it, and communi 
cate to it a new nature, a new force, a new life, and new 
laws of life ? 

A correct solution to these questions is of primary im 
portance, and we can arrive at it easily by a clear and dis 
tinct definition of the term i( Christian Grace : " 

3. Grace means, in the first place, that benevolent love 
which a superior entertains for an inferior, for instance, 
a master for his servant, a sovereign for his subject, and 
in our condition, God for His rational creature, especially 

1 8 Introduction. 

\vlion this love is united to the pleasure and complacency 
- which the former takes in the good qualities and good 
deeds of the latter. 

At the same time, however, we apply the word grace also 
to the effect of that love and to the object or the cause of that 
pleasure. Thus we ppy that we ask a grace of God or of 
man when we ask Him to grant us a favor on account of the 
condescending, benevolent love He bears us. Holy Scrip 
ture, likewise, applies the name grace to that beauty, good 
ness, and loveliness which render us worthy of the pleas 
ure and love of God : " Grace is poured abroad in thy lips : 
therefore hath God blessed tliee for ever." 

But we must add another distinction of importance, viz., 
that we receive a twofold favor and grace from a superior 
person ; first, a certain general, ordinary., merited, and nec 
essary grace ; and then, a very special, extraordinary, unde 
served, and gratuitous grace ; and this latter alone is, strictly 
and properly speaking, grace. Let us illustrate this by 
the conduct of a good and noble sovereign. He will truly 
love all his subjects, though they are inferior to him, or 
rather on that very account, because they are his subjects, 
and all will share his favor and goodness according to 
their relative position and merit. If he does no more 
than this, he fulfils only his duty and obligation, and 
he may be called gracious and kind, but he will not 
be said to receive any one unto special favor. This 
will be the case, then, only when he loves all or 
some of his subjects in a greater degree and bestows 
upon them greater gifts than he is in duty obliged, 
and their position or services are entitled to claim. Es 
pecially, then, will he be gracious, when of his own free will 
he embraces his subjects with the full love that he bears 
his own children and himself ; when in his kindness he 
condescends to associate with them as with his friends, 
thereby elevating them from their lowliness and surround 
ing them with royal honors ; when he, in consequence, 

1 Ps. xliv. 3. 

Introduction. 1 9 

raises them above their original condition and makes them, 
as far as possible, equal to himself and his children. 

Let us apply this example to the grace of God, of which 
royal favor is but a faint shadow. God is the highest 
King of Heaven and of earth, because He has created all, be 
cause all things are His and are destined for His service and 
glory. As He has created all things out of love, so He loves 
all His creatures ineffably and with most gracious con 
descension, but He naturally loves the rational more than 
the irrational, because they are His image and are capable 
of knowing and loving Him. His Divine complacency rests 
upon them, because He has created them good, as long as 
they do not offend Him by mortal sin and remain worthy 
of His first love by faithful observance of His command 
ments. In a certain sense, then, the rational creature can, 
by its nature already and its natural good works, merit the 
favor and love of God. For the same reason we may, 
according to the opinion of St. Augustine, call every nat 
ural good and gift of God a grace, since God was not 
obliged to create us and has given us all these natural goods 
out of gratuitous love. 

But ivlien once He has created us, He must, as a good 
and wise Creator, love us as His creatures, and grant us all 
those things that are indispensably necessary to attain to 
our natural destiny. That favor and grace, then, which 
we have just mentioned, is grace not in a particular and 
strict sense, but only in a general sense of the word. Nor 
is it the Christian grace, which Christ has brought into 
this world and which His Gospel, His Apostles, the holy 
Fathers, and Holy Church proclaim. This is grace in 
the highest and strictest sense of the word : a very par 
ticular, gratuitous, condescending, and full grace of God, 
which makes us His particular favorites. 

By the first kind of grace God loves us, as we deserve it 
on account of our nature and our natural good works. 
By the latter grace, however, He loves us in a very par 
ticular manner, in a supernatural manner, infinitely more 

2o Introduction. 

than we would deserve according to our nature. From 
pure and spontaneous love He descends from the height of 
His royal throne to our lowliness, in order to elevate us in 
finitely above our nature. He loves us with an unbounded 
and overflowing love, as much, so to speak, as is in His 
power ; He loves us as Himself and as His only begotten 
Son ; He assumes, therefore, our soul as His child, His 
friend, His spouse, makes it the associate of His own glory and 
happiness, and gives Himself to the soul for eternal pos 
session and enjoyment. 

As we now, in a perfect and in the Christian sense, call 
only this supernatural love of God for us grace, so we in 
the same sense designate only those gifts of God as graces, 
that are entirely supernatural and precious above others 
and proceed from that supernatural love of God. In the 
same manner, not every pleasure that God may take in His 
rational creature is .grace in the Christian sense, but that 
pleasure alone by which He delights in our soul on account 
of the supernatural beauty and loveliness it has received 
from Him by His supernatural love. 

4. Here we must point out a very essential difference be 
tween the grace of man and the grace of God : man may 
love others more, and confer upon them greater gifts 
than they desire, but he is unable to make them more 
amiable and pleasing to himself than they are in them 
selves. God, however, by His supernatural love, confers a 
supernatural beauty and amiability on the soul, by which it 
becomes similar to Him in His Divine nature and reflects 
the image of His Divinity. 

This internal, real, and supernatural amiability and 
pleasingness to God of our soul is also called grace, and 
that in an eminent sense, first, because it is the principal 
effect of God s supernatural love, and again, because it is 
the special object of His highest pleasure. It is that which 
we call habitual, sanctifying grace, the grace of sonship, 
or simply and directly grace, and which is described by 
the Roman Catechism in the following words : Grace, ac- 

Introduction. 2 1 

cording to the definition of the Council of Trent, 1 a definition 
to which, nnder pain of anathema, we are bound to defer, not 
only remits sin, but is also a Divine quality inherent in the 
soul, and, as it were, a brilliant light that effaces all those 
stains which obscure the lustre of the soul, and invests, it 
ivitli increased brightness and beauty." * 

We shall, then, in harmony with the use of the Church 
and the Council of Trent, speak of grace especially in the 
last sense, when we treat now of its glories and its inesti 
mable value. We must observe, however, that the so-called 
supernatural actual graces and the virtues of faith and 
hope, which may be separated from sanctifying grace, are 
not made to suffer by this distinction, but rather thereby 
appear in the full lustre of their glory and value. As they 
serve only to convey sanctifying grace to the soul, or to 
increase or preserve it, it is evident that their Divine 
power and great importance is rendered more prominent 
by portraying the full greatness and glory of the latter. 

5. Ineffably great are the mysteries that we are about to 
reveal, and it is difficult to describe them in a manner 
worthy of their greatness and at the same time suitable to 
every capacity. 

Yet we are consoled by the words of St. Leo, spoken with 
reference to the mystery of redemption, but equally applic 
able to the mystery of grace : * Although this is difficult, 
yet the priest is not free to withhold from the faithful the 
ministry of his word in this great mystery of Divine mercy, 
because the very ineffableness of the subject furnishes 
matter for speech, and when that which we say can never 
suffice, enough always remains to be said. May human 
weakness, therefore, always succuml) to the glory of God, and 
always find itself insufficient to explain the works of His 
mercy. May our sense be troubled, our understanding em 
barrassed, our expression deficient ; it is good that whatever 
knowledge concerning the Divine Majesty we do acquire, we 
find it less than we wish to possess." 3 Moreover, we may 

1 Sess. 6, C. 7. De justif. 2 De bapt. N. 49. 3 Serm. 11, On the Passion of our Lord. 

2 2 Introduction. 

confidently hope that the grace whose glories we describe 
will, if ever, especially now enlighten us and our readers,, 
if we only approach its consideration with childlike sim 
plicity, with a pure heart and deep humility. For as God 
" resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble," so He 
will let the humble understand the greatness of this grace. 
To the mysteries of grace the words of Christ are aptly re 
ferred : " I confess to Thee, Father, Lord of Heav 
en and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the 
wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones." 

If, however, Christian reader, in the course of this expla 
nation, now and then something should appear to you alto 
gether singular, new and unintelligible, remember what 
St. Paul says of the riches of grace : 2 " God is able to do 
all things more abundantly than we desire or understand," 
and rest assured that we shall advance nothing that is 
not supported by the clear teachings of Holy Writ, or the 
distinct utterances of the greatest Doctors of the Church. 

The following is a synopsis of the contents and division 
of this work : 

Theftr-st book explains the nature of sanctifying grace, 
and shows that it is a supernatural quality infused into our 
soul by God, by which we are elevated above our own na 
ture and participate in the Divine nature or become simi 
lar unto it. 

The second book describes how our soul is united to God 
in a supernatural and wonderful manner by this elevation, 
and is made His child, friend, and spouse. 

The third book continues to explain the effects which 
grace produces in our soul, especially the supernatural, 
heavenly, and Divine life it creates in us. 

The fourth book adds some other effects and prerogatives 
which ought to lead us to prize grace very highly. 

The fifth book finally indicates how we may acquire this 
grace, whose glories and prerogatives we have considered, 
and how, once having acquired it, we ought to guard and 
esteem it, and co-operate with it. 

Matthew xi. 25. Epb. iii. 20. 

: irst Ibook. 

Of the Nature of Grace. 


How Deplorable it is that Men should have so 
Little Regard for Grace. 


I HE grace of God, which we consider, is a ray of 
Divine beauty, infused from Heaven into the soul 
of man, and penetrating its innermost nature 
with such a bright and beautiful light, that the soul de 
lights the eye of God, is most tenderly loved by Him, is 
adopted as His child and spouse, is elevated above all limits 
of nature from earth to Heaven. By grace the soul is re 
ceived into the bosom of the Eternal Father, and at the 
side of His Divine Son participates in His nature, His life 
and glory, and inherits the realm of His eternal happiness. 
But our intellect cannot keep pace with our tongue, 
whilst it proclaims new wonders at every word that it 
utters. And how should we be able to understand these 
sublime heavenly gifts, when even the blessed spirits, who 
already possess and enjoy these gifts, cannot fully compre 
hend and appreciate their value ? They, too, in beholding 
the throne of Divine mercy, can but admire in deepest 
reverence His unbounded grace and goodness. But they 
must likewise marvel at our incredible, miserable blind 
ness, when we esteem the grace of God so little, seek it so 
negligently, and lose it so easily. They sorrow over our un- 

24 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

speakable misfortune, when we by sin cast ourselves from 
the throne of that heavenly dignity, to which grace had 
raised us, and which exceeded the natural dignity of the 
highest angels, into the deepest abyss, into the company of 
the brute and the reprobate spirits. And we are not horri 
fied, we do not shudder, we scarce experience the slightest 
regret ! 

The Angel of the schools teaches * that the whole world, 
and all it contains, is of less value before God than the 
grace of a single man. Yea, St. Augustine maintains 2 
that the whole Heaven, together with all angels, cannot be 
compared with it. It would follow, then, that man ought 
to be more thankful to God for the smallest share of grace, 
than if he had received the perfections of the highest 
spirits and were made king of Heaven and the whole world, 
with full possession of all power and dominion. How in 
finitely superior in value, then, is grace to all the riches of 
this earth ! 

And yet the least of these is often blindly preferred to 
grace, and the most detestable of them induces us to cast 
away grace sacrilegiously, and that, as it were, in playful 
jest. There are always men who wantonly surrender 
to the enemy of their soul this whole plenitude of gifts, 
which includes God Himself, only that they may indulge 
one sinful, unchaste look at an impure object ! who, more 
inconsiderate than Esau, lose an inheritance greater than 
the whole world, for a miserable momentary enjoyment ! 

2. " Be astonished, ye heavens, at this: and ye gates 
thereofbe very desolate."* Who would be so rash and in 
sane, if one brief sinful pleasure should cause the sun to 
disappear from the world, the stars to fall from Heaven, and 
all the elements to be disturbed, who were so mad as to 
sacrifice the whole world to his lust ? But what is the de 
struction of the universe compared with the loss of grace ? 
Yet this loss occurs so easily and frequently with so many 
people, I will not say every day, but at every moment : and 

1 Thorn. 1. 2. q. 113. a 9 ad 2. a Aug. 1. ad Bocif. c. 6- 3 Jerem. ii. 12. 

Man has so Little Regard for Grace. 25 

how few are there that seek to prevent this loss in them 
selves or others, or that at least mourn and weep over it ! 

We are awe-stricken at an eclipse of the sun, that lasts 
not even an hour, at an earthquake that buries a whole 
city, at a pestilential disease that swiftly carries off men 
and beasts in great number. Yet there is an occurrence 
far worse, far more terrible and deplorable, which we behold 
thousands of times everyday with tearless eye, without emo 
tion, when, namely, so many miserable men lose the grace of 
God every day and neglect the most convenient opportuni 
ties of acquiring it again or increasing it. 

Elias could not witness the overthrow of a mountain; 1 
the prophet Jeremias was inconsolably grieved at the deso 
lation of the Holy City ; Job s friends mourned seven days 
in silence at his lost fortune. We, indeed, may then eter 
nally grieve and weep; our sorrow will not even in a slight 
degree equal the misfortune that befalls us when sin dev 
astates the heavenly garden in our soul, when we cast off 
the reflex of Divine nature, the queen of virtues, holy 
charity, with all her heavenly following, the gifts of the 
Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit Himself; the sonship of 
God, the prerogatives of His friendship, the claim to His rich 
inheritance, the price and fruit of the sacraments and our 
merits; when, in a word, we lose God and the whole Heaven, 
grace with all its innumerable, precious treasures. 

The soul that loses grace may truly apply to itself the 
words of Jeremias in his Lamentations : 2 "How hath the 
Lord covered with obscurity the daughter of Sion in His 
wrath ? How hath He cast down from Heaven to the earth 
the glorious one of Israel, and hath not remembered His foot 
stool in the day of His anger. The Lord hath cast down 
headlong and hath not spared all that was beautiful in Jacob." 
But who considers this great misfortune, who grieves over it, 
and who is restrained from new sins by this grief ? " With 
desolation is all the land made desolate; because there is none 
that consider eth in the heart." 3 

1 III. Kings xix. 2 Lament, ii. 1-2. 3 Jerem. xii. 11. 

26 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Oh, how little do we love our true fortune, our true advan 
tage, how little do we understand the infinite love with 
which God comes to offer us His most precious treasures ! 
We act in the same manner as did the Israelites, whom 
God desired to lead out of the slavery of Egypt and the 
barren desert, into a land that flowed with milk and honey. 
They despised the undeserved, inestimable gift that God 
offered them, despised even the manna that God gave them 
on their journey, they abandoned Him and longed again 
after the fleshpots of Egypt. The promised land, however, 
was only a figure of Heaven and the manna a figure of grace, 
which is to nourish and strengthen us on the way to Heav 
en. If, now, " God lifted up His hand over them, who set at 
naught the desirable land, to overtliroiv them in the desert," 
how great a responsibility do we incur by a disregard for 
Heaven and grace, since the contempt for the prototype was 
already punished so severely ! 

We disregard grace, however, because we permit ourselves 
to be too deeply impressed by our senses with the tran 
sitory things, and have but a superficial knowledge of the 
true and heavenly things. We must, therefore, endeavor 
to correct our error by a deep and careful consideration of 
both, and the esteem for the eternal things will increase 
in us, in the same degree as that for the temporal dimin 
ishes. We must approach as near as possible to the over 
flowing and inexhaustible fountain of Divine grace, and the 
glory of its treasures will so delight us, that we henceforth 
will contemn the earthly things. Thus we learn to admire 
and esteem grace, and he who admires and praises grace, says 
vSt. John Chrysostom, will zealously and carefully guard it. 
Let us, then, with the Divine assistance, begin "the 
praise of the glory of His grace." 2 

And then, great and good God, Father of Light and of 
Mercy, from whom cometh every perfect gift? who hast 
predestinated us unto the adoption of children through 
Jesus Christ unto Thyself, according to the purpose of Thy 

1 Ps. cv. 24-23. 3 Eph. I. 6. 3 James i. 17. 

Man has so Little Regard for Grace. 27 

will, 1 wlio hast chosen us in Thee before the foundation of the 
world, that we should be holy and unspotted in Thy sight in 
charity, give us the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, 
enligJiten the eyes of our heart, that we may knoiv ivhat is 
the hope of our calling, and what are the riches of the glory 
of Thy inheritance in the saints." 2 Give me light and 
strength that my words may not be prejudicial to the gift 
of Thy grace, by which Thou dost raise men from the dust 
of their mortal origin and receivest them into Thy heavenly 

Christ Jesus, our Saviour, Son of the living God, by Thy 
precious Blood Thou hast shed for us poor creatures, and 
which Thou didst not consider too great a price for us, 
grant me that I may in some measure reveal the inestima 
ble value of grace to those whom Thou hast redeemed and 
restored to grace. 

And Thou, Highest and Holiest Spirit, Pledge and Zeal 
of Divine love, Sanctifier of our soul, by whom the grace 
and love of God is infused into our hearts, by whose seven 
gifts this grace and love is developed, who givest us Thyself 
with grace, teach us what grace is and how precious it is. 

Blessed Mother of God, and, therefore, Mother of His 
Divine grace, permit me to make known to those who have 
by grace become children of God and thy own children, the 
treasures to procure which thou hast offered thy Divine 

Holy angels, ye spirits filled and glorified by the light 
and fire of Divine grace, and ye holy souls who have 
already passed from this place of exile into the bosom of 
the heavenly "Father, and there enj.oy the sweet fruit of 
grace, assist me by your prayers, that I may for myself 
and others dispel the deceptive cloud before our eyes, re 
veal the sun of grace in brightest undimmed splendor, and 
by its transcendent beauty kindle in our hearts a living 
and everlasting love and desire for it. 

1 Eph. i. 5. 2 Ibid. 4, 18. 


Grace should be Prized very highly, because it is 
Infinitely Superior to all Natural Things. 


|E begin with the least prerogative of grace, namely, 
that it is infinitely above all natural things. 
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, according 
to the assurance of our Saviour," says St. Augustine, 
" but the salvation and justice of the elect will remain ; 
the former contains only the works of God, these latter the 
image of God." St. Thomas again teaches, 2 that it is a 
greater work to bring a sinner back to grace, than to create 
Heaven and earth. For the objects of the latter work are 
transitory and temporal things ; the former work is so much 
greater, because it leads to the participation in the immutable 
Divine nature. In creation God erects for Himself only 
a dwelling ; in giving man a rational nature, He places His 
servants and creatures in this dwelling ; but when He gives 
man His grace, He receives him unto His bosom, makes him 
His child, and communicates to him His own eternal life. 

In a word, grace is altogether a supernatural gift, that 
is, a gift which no created nature can possess by itself, or 
even lay claim to, and which properly belongs only to the 
highest nature of God Himself. This is so true that the 
most prominent and the greatest number of theologians 
maintain that God cannot produce a created being that 
would, from its nature, already possess grace ; they even 
say, if we should suppose such a creature, this creature 
would not differ from God Himself. 

Closely connected with this opinion is the oft-repeated 
and distinct decision of the Church, that neither man nor 

1 Aug- tr. 72, iu Joannem. 2 I. 2 q. 113. a 9. in corp. 

Grace should be Prized very highly. 29 

any other creature bears in his nature even the least germ 
of grace, and that, as St. Augustine frequently remarks, 
nature is related similarly to grace, as inanimate matter is 
to the principle of its life. Matter in itself, without life, 
cannot give itself life, but must receive it from another 
living being. In like manner the rational creature has not 
of itself any grace, and cannot even acquire it by its own 
labor and merit ; God alone can, from pure love, give this 
grace, by opening the abyss of His omnipotence and pour 
ing out upon nature His Divine power. 

How great, then, must that good be, which so eminently 
surpasses the nature, the power, and the merit of even the 
highest angels! 

An equally learned and pious man J says, all visible things 
are far inferior to man, even if they were infinite in num 
ber, and St. Chrysostom holds that there is nothing in this 
world that may be compared to man. St. Augustine, how 
ever, 2 adds that it is better to be just and holy than to be a 
man or an angel; and St. Thomas teaches that grace is 
worth more than the human soul. 

Indeed, we may well say that grace surpasses all natural 
things in a manner similar to God Himself. Grace is noth 
ing but the heavenly light, which from the depths of the 
Divinity dilfuses itself over the rational creature. The 
sun and its light are inseparable, and as the sun is far more 
precious and perfect than the earth, which of itself has no 
such light, so is the light emitted by the sun. 

Let us apply this to grace. Our nature is only the earth 
which receives the rays of the Divine Sun and by them is so 
elevated and glorified, that it becomes Divine itself. Now,, 
as God. whom we possess by grace, not only contains within 
Him the perfection of all things, but is infinitely more 
perfect than all things together, so grace is more precious 
than all created things. It is, as the Book of Proverbs says 
of wisdom, 3 "better than all the most precious things; 
and lohatsoever may be desired cannot be compared to it." 

1 Lessius, de div. perf. 1. 1. c. l. 2 Serm. 15, de verbis Apost. 3 Prov. viii. 11. 

30 77:6 Glories of Divine Grace. 

2. Let us, then,, raise our eyes to these treasures and decide 
whether they are to be despised or to be sought with all 
diligence. Were we ever so rich in natural goods, in gold 
and silver, in power and authority, in science and art, all 
this wealth vanishes into nothing before grace, as a heap of 
clay before a precious diamond. And if, on the other hand, 
we were ever so poor, by the grace of God alone we are richer 
than all the kings of the world ; we possess the best that 
the great God, in His infinite liberality, could give us. 

How grateful ought we, therefore, to be to God for such a 
gift ! We thank Him, that He has called us into existence 
out of nothing, that, as the Psalmist says, He has subjected 
all things under our feet, the sheep and the oxen, the birds 
of the air and the fishes of the sea, and we must for that 
reason exclaim with the Psalmist : 2 " What is man that 
Thou art mindful of him 9 or the son of man, that Thou 
visitest him 9 " How much greater thanks must we render, 
then, for the supernatural treasures of grace, and how care 
fully must we preserve them! 

A learned theologian, Cardinal Cajetan, therefore says, 
we must not for one moment lose sight of the value of 
grace, lest we might also forget the great punishment pre 
pared for those who despise the great gifts offered them 
gratuitously by God with such tender love. A similar pun 
ishment awaits them as awaited those men in the Gospel 
who were invited by the king to his banquet, but on ac 
count of another trifling gain or pleasure would not come. 
We frivolous and ungrateful men despise the invitation of 
God to His heavenly banquet, in order to follow the invita 
tion of the world and the devil, who delude us with their 
deceitful, miserable gifts and pleasures. The devil not on 
ly gives us nothing better than Clod, but something infinite 
ly inferior ; and even this he does not give us to make us 
happy, but to ruin us for all eternity. God gives us gra 
tuitously, with incredible love, a precious diamond; the devil 
very miserly and with implacable hatred gives us a bright 

1 Ps. viii. 7. 2 Ibid. 5. 

Grace should be Prized very highly. 3 1 

but false coin. What a criminal folly is it to give up 
the precious diamond and purchase the counterfeit coin, 
only to perish miserably and cruelly. 

But the immeasurable distance between grace and the 
natural gifts should not only prevent us from losing grace 
by a mortal sin, but urge us on to a fervent practice of the 
virtues that improve and increase it. Even if you lose no 
grace by omitting to assist at Holy Mass on week-days, or 
by neglecting an opportunity of prayer, or a work of mer 
cy, of mortification, and self-humiliation, you, nevertheless, 
suffer an immense loss if you do not increase your capital, 
when it is so easily possible, because the least degree of 
grace is worth more than all the riches of the world. 

If a miser could, by a single day s fast, or a single prayer, 
secure a whole fleet laden with treasures from India, who 
could restrain him from the act or disturb him therein ? 
Who could impress him by representing the difficulty of 
his performance, or the danger of his health ? With what 
right, then, and prudence, or rather folly, do we pretend 
such a difficulty, when we are certain of a reward, the 
smallest share of which incomparably surpasses a thousand 
Indies, aye, a thousand worlds! Yet we remain idle and 
will not labor to cultivate a field that immediately yields 
a golden harvest! We are not required to shed our blood 
in this labor. One sigh is sufficient, one tear, one earnest 
resolution, one pious wish, the one word Jesus, by which 
we express our love for Him or invoke His assistance. Who 
would not gladly invoke Jesus a thousand times a day if 
he could thereby obtain as many coffers of gold ? And 
yet this is nothing in comparison with what we expect with 
unshaken faith to receive from God. Oh, could we impress 
these glorious riches of grace deeply upon our hearts, 
we would then repeat, not thoughtlessly, but with deep 
and vivid conviction, the words of a pious teacher : Grace is 
the mistress and queen of nature. 1 

1 Gerson., serin, de circumcis. 


Grace is still more Sublime than Miracles. 


]T were not enough if grace surpassed only the 
natural things ; it also surpasses all miraculous 
works of God. 

Thus St. Augustine understands that remarkable prom 
ise of our Saviour, that the faithful would do greater 
things yet than He Himself had performed on earth. He 
says we might indeed explain this promise by the fact 
that, for instance, St. Peter had healed the sick by his 
mere shadow, which we do not read of our Saviour. But it 
is more probable, he continues, that we are to understand 
here the work of justification, in which we can co-operate 
for ourselves and others. For, although we do not produce 
grace in ourselves, yet we can, with the Divine assistance, 
prepare ourselves for it and make ourselves worthy of it, and 
may encourage and induce others to do the same, and thus we 
shall perform greater works than Christ in His miracles. 

The working of grace is more sublime and glorious than 
the working of miracles, for God as well as for man. God 
works miracles usually only in visible things, when in a 
supernatural manner He restores health to man or raises 
the dead to life. But grace He works in the soul, and by 
it, in a manner, creates the soul anew, elevates it above its 
nature, plants in it the germ of a supernatural life and re 
produces, so to speak, Himself in it, by the image of His 
own nature, which He impresses upon it. Thus the work 
of grace is the greatest wonder of God s omnipotence. It 
is greater than even the creation of the natural world out 
of nothing, and can only be compared with that unspeak- 

Tract. 72, in Joannem. 

Grace is still more Sublime than Miracles. 35 

able act of God the Father, by which He produces from all 
eternity His own and equal Son, and in time unites with 
Him a human nature. As supernatural, sublime, and full 
of mystery as is the generation of Christ, so supernatural 
and mysterious is the infusion of grace into our soul, be 
cause, in the words of St. Leo, we thereby " participate in 
the generation of Christ." 

However, we must co-operate in this work more than 
the saints could co-operate in the miracles God worked 
through them. They could only suffer God to act through 
their mediation, without being able, of their own power, to 
contribute anything. But in grace God wills that we our 
selves, with His assistance, prepare our soul for it, receive it 
from His hand, preserve, cultivate, and increase it. 

2. wonderful greatness which God has given us, taking 
our soul unto Himself as His spouse, that by the power re 
ceived from Him she may produce in herself the image of 
God and become the child of God ! wonderful power 
which God has granted His Church, to communicate His 
grace to her children by her teaching and her sacraments ! 
Can man desire anything greater, co-operate in any greater 
work ? Will you perform a great, a wonderful work, not 
to be admired by foolish men, but by the angels of Heaven ? 
Will you be made a spectacle to the world and to the angels ? 
See, this is the greatest work : labor to acquire and increase 
grace for yourself and your fellow-men. 

Oh, if men knew what a great deed it is, if by sincere 
contrition for their sins they abandon their past and be 
gin a new life ! They in reality perform a greater deed, 
than if they raised the dead to life or created a man out of 
nothing. "If God has made you man/ says St. Au 
gustine, 1 "and you make yourself a just man (of course 
with God s help), your work is better than that of God." 

If you could recall your deceased brother to life by con 
trition for your sins, would you be so full of hatred to 
wards God, or of cruelty towards your brother, as not to 

1 Serm. 15. <le verbis Apost. 

34 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

do this ? Now you may easily, by one act of contrition, 
raise yourself from death, not that of the body, but that 
of the soul, and from an eternal death to an eternally bliss 
ful life. And yet you hesitate and refuse that wonderful 
assistance which God offers you. 

St. Chrysostom also teaches that it is greater to revive 
a mortally wounded soul than a dead body. Who, in fact, 
that is not entirely blind, could esteem it greater to re-in 
state the body in a perishable life and the enjoyment of 
earthly, sensual, temporal pleasures, than to raise the soul 
to an eternal life, and the enjoyment of heavenly gifts, and 
to secure for it, as well as in and by it also for the flesh, an 
eternal happy life ? But if we ask miracles of God for the 
preservation of our corporal life, why do we not co-operate 
ourselves with that miracle that will restore to us the life 
of the soul ? 

3. Not only contrition, however, which recovers the lost 
grace, but all good, supernatural actions, performed in 
a state of grace, are of great value and have a marvellous 
power. Every degree of grace that we acquire raises us high 
er above our nature, unites us more closely to God, and 
causes us to ascend ever more above all the heavens. Had 
we the power to work visible miracles, or at least to accom 
plish great things with ease, how zealously should we use 
this power, and what an honorable duty should we consider 
it, to turn this capital to profitable advantage ! With how 
much zeal do great artists and poets practise their art, and 
continually produce new and more beautiful works ! 

If we only considered what power every good work 
possesses for the increase of grace and the gain of eternal 
happiness, we should let no moment pass by without loving 
God, adoring Him, and praying to Him, and we should be 
ashamed to draw one breath without sighing to God ; we 
should even rejoice with the Apostles to suffer something 
for God s sake. 2 If we knew how greatly we may enhance 
our dignity by a single act of virtue, we should purchase 

1 Tom. 4, horn. *, antiq. ed. - Acts v. 41. 

Grace is still more Sublime than Miracles. 35 

the opportunity at any price and we could not bear to 
lose one occasion out of a hundred that .were offered us. 

No man would be so cruel as not willingly to cure a sick 
person, or enrich a poor one, if he could do this by one 
small charity or a short prayer. But are we not much 
more cruel to ourselves, if we refuse to augment the heav 
enly beauty, glory, and treasures of our soul at an equally 
insignificant cost ? Why do we not season all our actions 
with the spirit of faith and charity, since then we should 
acquire by each action a higher degree of grace, which is 
nobler than all natural things and greater even than 
miracles ? 

4. The infusion and communication of grace is itself a 
miracle of the highest order and greater than all other 
miracles. But why does it not excite our ivonder and ad 
miration ? Only, therefore, because it is invisible to our 
corporal sight, and does not occur rarely and exceptionally 
as other miracles, but universally and according to fixed 
laws. These two circumstances, however, should make it 
more precious in our eyes. 

It is not visible because it is a miracle wrought in the 
soul and not in the body ; we cannot see it, because we 
cannot see God, with whom we are united by it ; and 
as God would not be the infinitely great God, if we could 
see Him with our natural sight, so grace would not be so 
great and wonderful, if it were visible to us. 

If, moreover, grace is given according to a universal and 
fixed law, so that we may acquire it by our ordinary actions, 
this only reveals still more the infinite love and power of 
God, who is so liberal that He accomplishes this great work 
not at rare intervals, on extraordinary occasions, and through 
a few of His greatest servants only, as He does with other 
miracles, but connects it with our most ordinary actions 
and lets it disappear, as it were, in the circle of our own daily 
activity. Great God ! should we esteem Thy gift less for that 
reason, which makes us venerate Thee, the Donor, so much 
more, or should we appreciate it less, because Thou grant- 

36 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

est it to all, and at all times, and with the greatest facility, 
than if Thou didst grant it but once and to one man only? 
But if Thou would st grant it to one alone and only once, 
how could this one entertain the wicked thought of renounc 
ing the possession of this so singular gift ? Yes, God, 
Thy bountiful liberality must induce us always to remem 
ber Thee, most gracious Giver, and to exert all our power 
to preserve Thy gift in us and to hold it in highest honor. 


We Ourselves are Elevated far above our Nature 
by Grace. 


AVING shown that grace is infinitely superior to 
all natural things and even to miracles,, we 
might add, that in a certain sense it is more 
precious than even the heavenly glory, which appears to be 
the highest good that God is able to give us. For the 
glory of Heaven, in which the blessed see and enjoy God, 
is nothing else but the full development of the grace that 
we possess. Grace is the fountain, springing up unto ever 
lasting life; it is the root, of which the blossom and fruit 
is beatitude ; it has, then, the special privilege, that this 
beatitude depends upon it and is founded upon it. " TJie 
wages of sin is death, but the grace of God, life everlasting ," 
says the Apostle; l but if, according to the Apostle, grace is 
life eternal, then it must not only lead to that life, but al 
ready contain it in itself, and as sin is a greater evil than its 
punishment, death, so grace must be a greater good than 
eternal happiness considered in itself, for we merit it by 

But of this we shall speak later. Let us now consider 
how grace is such a precious and excellent gift that it com 
municates its qualities and greatness to its possessor, and is 
not only itself exalted above nature, but also elevates him 
who receives it far above his nature. 

""Place me/ 7 says an old philosopher, 2 " in a very rich 
house that abounds with gold and silver; I shall not, on 
account of these things, admire myself; for though they 

1 Rom. vi. 23. 2 Seneca. 

38 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

are with me, they are not within me. Such eternal treas 
ures do not touch the nature of man; and though they 
dazzle the eye by their great splendor, they improve him nei 
ther in health, nor in the form of his body, and least of all 
in the appointments of his mind/ That, however, is pre 
cisely the privilege of grace, that it raises its holder to its 
own exalted position; it penetrates the soul, the true in 
terior man and unites itself so closely with it that it com 
municates all its own prerogatives to the soul. It weaves 
all its treasures together into a golden vesture studded with 
diamonds, and surrounds the soul with it; and as it is itself 
the greatest work of God, so it makes the soul, which re 
ceives it in rich inheritance, appear as the greatest, noblest, 
and most glorious work of God. Therefore, St. Cyril of 
Alexandria says: ] "The grace of Christ clothes us, as it 
were, with beauteous purple and raises us to a dignity that 
surpasses all knowledge." 

What an unheard-of honor and liberality is that, where 
man is lifted up from his native lowliness and obscurity and 
is placed, not only like another Adam, as lord over this vis 
ible earth and all the animals, but is so far elevated above 
all the heavens, that the natural nobility of the highest an 
gels does not reach thither ! For the angels themselves do 
not by nature possess the dignity that we acquire by grace ; 
they also receive it as a gift only from the gracious bounty 
of God and without it they would rank so far, and even 
farther beneath us, than we naturally are inferior to them. 

2. Who, then, could sufficiently lament our blindness by 
which we exchange this pinnacle of greatness for a detest 
able servitude ! Meanwhile, we endeavor, by mutual quar 
rel, dispute, and envy, to ascend to a place blindly considered 
higher than the others ; and if at our birth we were given 
the choice, we would certainly always select the highest 
position and be inferior even to no angel. What witch 
craft, then, so blinds us, that when this honorable name and 
throne of grace is offered, aye, urged upon us by God, we 

1 In Jo. c. 1, v, 14. 

We are Elevated above Nature by Grace. 39 

scarcely notice it, or if we have accepted it, so easily and 
at any price surrender it again ! 

Recognize, man, the splendor which you receive from 
grace ; remain true in life to the high position which your 
soul occupies by grace. What have you in common with 
the laws of the world, when this world is so far beneath 
your feet? You, who by the dignity of your new condition 
have been transferred into Heaven and there erected your 
throne, why do you still wallow in the mire of this earth ? 

The ancient heathen philosophers were by natural reason 
even led to understand that love for the* things of this 
earth is foolish if we think of Heaven and of the stars. 
"If," says one of them, 1 "we should give human reason to 
ants, they would in the same manner divide their small 
fields into as many provinces, as kings do with their coun 
tries. Above us are infinite distances, before which earth 
ly space disappears as nothing." Another 2 remarks: If 
one should look down from the sim or moon upon our 
earth, the whole earth would appear but as a small disc, 
and the largest kingdoms, and much more the acres and 
fields, would appear but as small, scarcely visible points. 

How, then, shall we, who in reality and not only in word 
or thought have been elevated above the heavens by grace, 
bear ourselves ? What shall we think of ourselves, of 
grace and of these earthly things? The same, or rather 
a far greater distance and difference of greatness, than 
exists between the sun and the earth, exists between all 
earthly things and grace ; yet we will, after the man 
ner of very stupid people, be misled by external appear 
ances. As they imagine the sun to be only a very small 
surface in comparison with the earth, so we foolishlv can 
not understand the invisible greatness and sublimity of 
grace. But if we can disprove appearances by the certain 
calculations of astronomers, why should we not let the far 
more certain principles of faith remove our ignorance in 
regard to grace ? 

1 Seneca, pnef. in qusest. nat. 2 Lucian in Incarom. 

4o The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Few men only, mindful of the high condition and dig 
nity they have received by grace, despise the lust and de 
sires of their inhorn nature, and as a peasant suddenly 
become king, are ashamed of the character, pleasures, and 
ways of their previous low condition. St. Isidor of Alex 
andria wept over the necessity to eat, because he was com 
pelled, like the animals, to take bodily food, whilst he 
was destined for the banquet of the blessed in Heaven. 
St. Paul considers it wrong to yield to flesh and blood and 
appreciate anything else in us than the new creation, 
which God has established in us by grace, and He exhorts 
us to find pleasure only in the things that are above, not 
the things that are on earth. 1 Wl iat madness, then, impels 
us to forget the delights of Heaven and to follow even 
brutish instincts and beastly pleasures ? Thither, thither 
let us direct our desires, whither our position has raised 
us, and if we desire anything upon earth, let us desire 
crosses, that thus crucified to nature and to the world, we 
may exhibit the conduct of beings belonging to another, 
higher world. 

1 Coloss. iii. 2. 


Grace is a Participation in the Uncreated Divine 
Nature. 1 


IT is certainly a great thing that man by grace 
should rise above all created nature ; but it is 
something greater still, that he should partici 
pate in the uncreated Divine nature ; or rather, to speak 
more precisely, man in the state of grace is so superior to 
all created things, because he is so near God. On account 
of this nearness he partakes of the prerogatives of God, as a 
body partakes of the light and heat of fire, in proportion 
to its proximity to the fire. 

This excellent union with God is taught us, according to 
the unanimous explanation of the holy Fathers, by St. 
Peter, 2 when he writes, that by the most great and precious 
promises God hath made us ~by Jesus Christ, we may be 
made partakers of the Divine nature, i. e., that the prerog 
atives which are, above all created nature, due to the 
Divine nature, are, as far as possible, communicated to our 
own nature. 

The Saints cannot find expressions sufficiently worthy to 
describe this magnificent gift. The ecclesiastical writer, 
known by the name of St. Dionysius, says : " Sanctity or 
sanctifying grace is a Divine gift, an inexpressible copy of 
the highest Divinity and the highest goodness, 3 by means 
of which we enter a Divine rank through a heavenly gen- 

1 What is said in the following chapters of the deification of the soul by participa 
ting in the Divine nature will appear to many readers exaggerated, novel and dan 
gerous. Here, especially, there is question of a great mystery, which cannot be 
passed over in silence, but must be considered with reverence and faith. 

2 II. Peter i. 4. * Epist. 2, ad Caium. 

42 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

eration." 1 The holy martyr Maximus writes: 2 The 
Divinity is given us when grace penetrates our. nature by 
a heavenly light and raises it above its natural condition 
by the greatness of glory." These and most of the other 
holy Fathers teach, with St. Thomas, that by grace we are, 
in a manner, deified, and they apply to this mystery the 
words of our Saviour : 3 " I have said : you are gods, and 
all of you the sons of the Most High." In a word, we are 
by grace elevated in some measure to the highest order of 
things, to the throne which God alone occupies in virtue 
of His nature, and we thus ascend unto the highest Heaven. 

"2. If we consider the various classes of beings known to 
us, we perceive that the one class differs in its nature from 
the others and is more perfect than others, so that they all 
together form a ladder of many rounds, whose summit is 
occupied by God. Some things enjoy existence only with 
out life, as the stones and metals ; others have a certain 
kind of life, as the plant, which by its own innate power 
from the root produces the blossom and the fruit ; the an 
imals have, besides, sensation and motion; man, finally, has 
even a spiritual life, so that he may know and love even 
immaterial things. But above him again there is an im 
measurable gradation of pure spirits, invisible to us, each 
of whom has his own peculiar high perfection. Infinitely 
above all these natures is the Divine nature; for none other 
is so purely spiritual ; none other has like it the power to 
behold God immediately or unite itself so intimately to His 
own nature by love. All other natures are darkness com 
pared to the Divine Sun and cannot of themselves adequate 
ly represent the peculiar perfections of this Sun. 

This sublime Divine nature now, by the infinite power 
of its equally infinite love, draws our nature unto itself, re 
ceives it into its Divine bosom, immerses it into itself as 
iron is dipped into the furnace, and thus we belong to 
God s kind in the same manner as the palm-tree belongs to 
the class of plants, and the lion to that of animals. 

1 Eccl. hier. c. 2. 2 Centur. oecon. I. 7G. 3 John x. 34 ; cf. Ps. Ixxxi. 6. 

Participation in the Divine Nature. 43 

If out of so many millions of men and angels, God se 
lected a single soul, and bestowed upon it this unheard-of 
dignity, this soul, if it were visible, would darken the 
beauty of the sun, of all nature, and of all heavenly spirits, 
and would so amaze not only mortal men, but also the 
angels, that they would be inclined to adore it as they 
adore God Himself. How, then, is it possible that we de 
spise this same gift, when it is so profusely, we might say, 
extravagantly lavished upon all, and that our ingratitude 
increases in the proportion in which God will be more lib 
eral towards us ? 

Our ambition makes us purchase, with immense trouble, 
and with large sums of money, the society of the great, and 
we despise the communion with the great God ! If any 
one is expelled from the council of a king, he cannot en 
dure the ignominy ; and should we not esteem it a bitter 
loss, an irreparable injury to our ambition, to be expelled 
by mortal sin not only from the society of God, but from 
God s family and relationship ? In fact, the man that 
despises this union with God s goodness and Divinity hates 
God Himself ; such a man is a deadly enemy to his own 
honor, his sound reason, his own person, and to God. 

3. Other honors, moreover, consist in the opinion and 
esteem of men, rather than in the possession of intrinsic 
merit ; a person may, at the bidding of his sovereign, oc 
cupy the highest positions of honor, without being, on that 
account, more perfect and honorable in himself. But if 
grace communicates to us a Divine dignity, it grants us not 
only a high name, but in reality a perfection of the Di 
vine order, for it renders our soul, according to the teach 
ing of theologians, in a supernatural manner like unto God. 

" By the union with the Son and the Holy Ghost," 
says St. Cyril of Alexandria, 1 " we all who have believed 
and have been likened unto God, are partakers of the Divine 
nature, not only in name, l)ut in reality, because we have 
been glorified with a beauty surpassing all created beauty. 

De Triii. 1. 4. 

44 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

For Christ is informed in us in an indescribable manner, 
not as one creature in another, but as God in created na 
ture. Christ transforms us, the creature, by the Holy 
Ghost into His image, and elevates us to an uncreated dig 

"What is essential and substantial in God/ says St. 
Thomas, 1 "exists in the soul, which partakes by grace 
in the Divine love, as a quality superadded to its nature/ 

This beautiful and sublime mystery is explained by the 
holy Fathers in various illustrations. St. Athanasius 2 
compares the Divinity with ambergris 3 or balsam, which 
communicates its fragrance to the objects that come in 
contact with it ; also with a seal which leaves its own 
form impressed in the soft wax. St. Gregory Nazianzen 
says our nature is so intimately united to God, and par 
takes of His perfections, as a drop of water that falls into 
a cup of wine is absorbed by it and assumes the color, 
flavor, and taste of the wine. St. Thomas, following 
herein St. Basil, represents to us the iron, which is in it 
self raw, cold, black, hard, and without beauty, but when 
laid into the fire and penetrated by its heat, without los 
ing its own nature, appears bright, warm, flexible, and 
liquid. If we remember now that God is the purest 
spiritual light and the fire of eternal love itself, we can 
in some measure understand how God, descending with 
His full glory to His creature, or receiving it into His 
bosom, can, without destroying its nature, penetrate it with 
the full glow of His light and warmth, so that its natural 
lowliness and weakness disappear and it is seemingly al 
together absorbed in God. 

4. If we could acquire the vivid mental activity of the 
angels as easily as we can increase grace, we should cer 
tainly not slothfully neglect the opportunity. But why do 
I speak of the perfection of angels ? Those of the lower 
nature even attract us : the swiftness of the deer, the 

1 1. 2. q. 110, art. 2, ad 2. 2 Lih , l(1 s,> rap . do Spir. S. 

3 A precious, sweet-sceuted perfume, used in the East- 

Participation in the Divine Nature 45 

strength of the lion, the flight of the eagle., etc.; how 
gladly we should seize them, if they were within our easy 
reach ! But, shame ! the perfection and glories of the 
Divine nature, that not only enrich our nature, but ennoble 
it throughout, and raise it up to the infinite, these per 
fections are not great enough in our eyes to call forth a 
little exertion on our part ! Where is our reason, our 
Christian faith ? 

Let us suppose the case, that God had wonderfully 
united in a single man all the perfections to be found in 
creatures : that this man were stronger than the lion, 
more beautiful than the flowers of the fields or the dawn 
of day, brighter than the sun, more enlightened than the 
cherubs ; let us further suppose that this man hazarded 
all these gifts on one cast of the die ; who would not shud 
der at the folly and meanness of such criminal ingratitude ! 
Thus the folly of Samson was so much greater, the greater 
his strength was, which he betrayed to the hypocritical 
tears of a deceitful woman. And we surrender our re 
lationship with God, the splendor of the Divine Sun, the 
might of the Divine virtues, to our miserable flesh, which 
is the daughter of corruption, the sister and the mother of 
worms ! Here the pen itself is shocked at the sight of 
such a pitiable and yet common spectacle. Weep, ye 
angels of peace, if ye may weep, over this cruel madness, 
that makes your brethren on earth turn against themselves 
and unworthily desecrate so many and such great gifts ! 

May those of us, however, whose eye is more clear, and 
condition of soul more normal, esteem and admire their 
own dignity, and embrace with the whole love of their 
heart its author,, the Father of all light. If the planets 
enjoyed the knowledge of their beauty, they would certain 
ly be inflamed with grateful love towards the sun, whose 
bounty bestows upon them their beauty, whose light gives 
them their brightness, and whose reflection makes them so 
lovely and wonderful ! The prince loves the founder of 
his pedigree, the son his father, if he be a true son, and 

46 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

everything loves its kind. Should not a similar sense of 
relationship and similitude draw us from this earth to God ? 
Would that we Christians were not less impressed with 
our dignity, than heathen philosophers, through the mere 
light of reason, were impressed with the dignity of man! 
They called man a miracle, the marrow and the heart of the 
world, the most beautiful being, the king of all creatures. 
But if he appears so great already in the light of reason, 
how much greater in the light of faith ! Let us open the 
eyes of our soul and heed the warning of St. Chrysostom : 
" I beg and beseech you, do not suffer that the extraordi 
nary gifts of God (which we have received through the 
grace of Christ), increase our guilt and the punishment of 
our negligence by their infinite greatness." 


The Participation in the Divine Nature Effects a 
Supernatural Similarity to this Nature. 


|HE participation in the Divine nature is so sub 
lime a mystery that we must more fully explain 
the manner in which it takes place. 
A certain participation in the Divine perfections is 
found, as theologians say, in all things that God has 
created. All things, more or less, resemble God, in their 
existence, in their life, in their force and activity ; in all 
things God reveals His glory, so that, according to the teach 
ing of the Apostles, the invisible glory of God may be seen 
and considered in created things. But their similarity 
is of a very different nature. In corporeal, visible things we 
find only a slight impression of God s glory, as it were, 
His footprint only, as a man leaves a print when walking 
over soft earth. The print shows where a man has been ; 
but it contains only an image of his foot, not of his whole 
form and nature. Now, since God is a spirit, corpore .il 
things reveal themselves as the work of His hands and be 
speak His wisdom and power, but they do not represent 
His nature. Our soul, however, and all pure spirits, are, by 
their very nature, a certain image of the Divine nature ; 
they are, like God, spiritual, rational, and of free 
will. Yet their nature is finite, created out of nothing, 
and therefore very different from the Divine nature. They 
are similar to the picture of a man which a painter has 
with different colors painted on canvas. This picture 
reveals to us the form, the features, and complexion of the 
person represented ; but it always remains far inferior to 

48 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

the likeness that a mirror reflects ; for in the mirror the 
person appears by his own light and not by that of another, 
in his whole natural beauty, freshness and life. In like 
manner, the rational creature, then only becomes perfectly 
similar to God when it has become a true mirror of the 
Divinity, which reflects the Divinity in its own peculiar 
beauty, when it has been penetrated and glorified by the 
Divine fire, and in a manner transformed into God, as, for 
instance, a bright crystal globe that collects the rays of the 
sun, or as the mock-sun, noticed occasionally in the sky, 
appears to be the sun itself. 

The participation in the Divine nature, then, which we 
enjoy by grace, consists in this, that our nature assumes a 
condition peculiar to the Divine nature, and becomes so 
similar to the Deity, that according to the holy Fathers, we 
may truly say, it is deified or made deiform. Deifica 
tion," says St. Dionysius, 1 is tlie greatest possible likening 
and union witJl God." Likewise, St. Basil teaches: " 
"From the Holy Spirit springs a never-ending joy, the liken 
ing unto God ; to be made God, however, is the highest that 
man can wish and desire." We do not speak, therefore, of a 
dissolution of our substance in the Divine substance, or 
even of a personal union with it as it is in Christ Jesus, 
but only of a glorification of our substance into the image 
of Divine nature. Neither shall we become new gods, in 
dependent of the true God, and therefore, false gods. But, 
in truth, we are made, by the power and grace of God, some 
thing which God alone is by nature ; we are made His 
supernatural likeness and our soul receives a reflex of that 
glory, which is peculiar to Him above all creatures. 

2. If we will better understand this likeness with God, we 
must examine in order the different prerogatives which 
distinguish the Divinity from created natures. 

Let us first consider the eternal existence and life of God. 
God alone exists by Himself, eternal and immutable, and 
rlepends upon no one. Creatures, however, are of themselves 

1 Eccl. bier. c. 1. 2 I)e Spiritu. S, c. 9, 

Effect of Participation in the Divine Nature. 49 

nothing; they exist only because God has created them 
and permits them to exist. For that reason they are, even 
after their creation by God, as nothing compared with 
Him. "I am who am/ says the Lord, and "all nations 
are before Him as if they had no being at all, and are 
counted to Him as nothing and vanity. " For all creatures, 
even the immortal spirits, would, in virtue of their nature, 
again sink back into their nothingness, if God s goodness 
did not sustain them. 

Grace, however, is, according to the Apostle Paul, a new 
creation and the foundation of a new immovable kingdom. 2 
By it we are received into the bosom of the Eternal God, 
into the side of the Eternal Word, by whose power the 
Father lias created all, and who is co-eternal with Him. 
We are called to a more than temporal, to an eternal life, and 
dwell in the tabernacle of God s eternity, immediately at 
the fountain of all being and of all life. Here our eternal 
existence is as secure as that of God Himself; here we need 
fear neither death nor destruction, and when Heaven and 
earth pass away, when the stars fall from Heaven, and the 
powers of the heavens shall be moved, we shall not be 
affected, because we rest in the bosom of the Creator, far 
above all creatures. 

Hence the Book of Wisdom says : 3 " The just shall live 
forevermore, and their reward is with the Lord; therefore 
shall they receive a kingdom of glory, and a crown of beauty at 
the hand of the Lord, for with His right hand He will cover 
them, and with His holy arm He will defend them." Of those, 
however, who separated themselves from God and esteemed 
the transitory goods higher than the treasures of His grace, 
the same Book says : " WJiat hath pride profited us, or what 
advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us 9 All those 
things are passed aw ay Wee a shadow and like a post that 
runneth on, and as a ship that passeth through the waves ; 

so we also being born, forthwith ceased to be and are 

consumed in our wickedness." If, then, we wish really to 

1 Is. xl. 17. 2 Eph> iL 10> Hebr xij ^ 3 Wis. v. 16-17. 

50 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

exist, to exist eternally and exist as something truly great, 
why do we not go to the fountain of all being ? Why do we 
rely upon our own nothingness and pursue other things as 
vain and transitory as we ourselves are ? Why will we be 
great in a tawdry garment ? Why will we immortalize our 
selves in the mouths of men, and not in ourselves and in 
the bosom of God ? 

The sinner desires, as the first parents and the devil him 
self, "to be as God." Yea, God Himself wills, that we be 
as He, yet not Avithout Him, not outside of Him, not 
against Him ; He wills not that we should make ourselves 
as other gods, to adore ourselves and be adored. He wills 
that we be as He, but only in His bosom, at His heart ; He 
wills it through Himself and in union with Him as His 
own Divine Son, who is not another God, but the same 
God with the Father. How great, therefore, is the folly 
and the crime of the sinner, who instead of desiring to be 
one with God as His child, rejects this infinite love of God 
and will be His enemy independent of Him ! 


With the Participation in the Divine Nature Grace 
Confers upon us the Highest Perfection. 


WILL be like the Most High," said Lucifer, 1 when 
he considered the beauty and glory with which 
God had adorned him. He blasphemed God by 
speaking thus, because he would possess this glory independ 
ently of God. But we cannot praise God more, and ren 
der Him more acceptable thanks, than by confessing that 
by His grace He will make us similar to Himself in His 
highest perfections. The Saviour Himself says: "Be you 
perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." This is to 
be understood primarily of moral perfection, but from all 
that we have said it may be interpreted to mean, also, that 
we shall partake of the other perfections of God. 

Consider, then. Christian soul, who are called to the 
communion of God, the riches of His glory. Admire His 
infinite nature, which, for that very reason, because it is 
the purest being, and being itself, contains all imaginable 
glory and happiness, and before which all else disappears 
as smoke. Admire His infinite majesty, which like a sun 
emits so many rays, as we behold beauties and perfections 
within us, about us, over us. See how the great Architect 
has, with one word, created this wide world, so beautifully 
diversified, and not exhausted with this one labor, He 
might have created a thousand worlds besides with the 
same ease : how He called into existence, and ordered so 
harmoniously, the countless heavenly bodies, some of which 
are a thousand and a million times greater than this earth: 

i Is. xiv. 14. 

52 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

how He, who moves all things, is not moved himself, how 
He ordains the different causes, arranges the elements, how 
He produces all perfections, forces, and treasures of metals, 
of springs, of plants and animals, of the science of men 
and angels from His treasuries. And if now, before such 
an immense multitude of riches and glories, you fall on 
your knees in adoring admiration and imagine yourself 
annihilated as a poor worm before the splendor of the sun, 
then, Christian soul, be amazed also at yourself, who 
have been surrounded and clothed with beautiful gold and 
purple, by a wonderfully loving God in His grace. 

All created natures have different perfections, and no 
one enjoys all those that are found in others. The ele 
phant has the strength of the lion, but not his swiftness, 
the lion the strength of the elephant, but not his size. 
Animals surpass plants in the possession of senses, but are 
not adorned by such beautiful blossoming. Man is infi 
nitely superior to animals because of his rational soul, 
yet these possess many corporal advantages, in which man 
is wanting. God, however, in the simplicity of His being, 
contains in an eminent manner all the perfections of crea 
tures together, as the sun in its simple light contains all 
the diversified beauty of the seven colors of the rainbow ; 
and the different natures of creatures are only as the dif 
ferent rays, are only the refractions by the clouds of the 
one ray of the sun. Thus, too, the nature of our soul and 
of the angel, being spiritual, is indeed incomparably more 
perfect than that of corporal things, yet it is only as one 
refracted ray of the Divine Sun, which does not contain 
the perfection of all others, though it be the most beauti- 
ul of them all. But in grace the light of Divine glory is 
reflected, pure and entire, by the soul, which thus is made 
so sublime an image of God, that all perfections of crea 
tures are gathered in it. 

2. Though you were ever so poor in natural gifts, broth 
er, envy no one, and were you ever so rich in treasures, in 
power, in influence, in knowledge, see, the poorest of your 

Grace Confers the Highest Perfection. 53 

brethren is by grace infinitely more perfect and happy than 
you ; he possesses in his heart the most glorious and beau 
tiful of kingdoms, the kingdom of God, of which Christ 
says, " The kingdom of God is within you." 

But you answer : Of all these glories I see nothing, and 
what doth a treasure profit me, if I cannot enjoy it ? 

True, you do not see your glory, and yet it is within you. 
If you have an unpolished diamond, you do not yet see how 
precious and beautiful it is, though it has the same value 
now as when it is polished. When you hold the seed 
of a tree in your hand, you would not suspect what a 
great and beautiful tree is contained in it. Likewise, the 
beautiful and Divine perfection, which grace communi 
cates to you, is within you ; but it is yet hidden and con 
cealed. " We are now the sons of God," says St. John ; 
" but it hath not yet appeared what we shall be, when we 
shall see God as He is." 

As long as you do not see God face to face, you cannot 
see the image of His Divine nature in you. Grace is, so to 
speak, the dawn of the light of the Divine Sun; wait only 
until this Sun itself rises, until it develops in you its whole 
splendor, until it penetrates and glorifies you with the glow 
of its heat, and your glory will delight you the more, the 
longer it has remained hidden from you. Until then, you 
must, after the words of the Apostle, walk by faith and not 
by sight, believing the unfailing promise of God. For, 
" by faith," says St. Peter, 1 " we are kept unto salvation, 
ready to be revealed in the last time at the appearing of 
Jesus Christ," and by Him we have the lively hope of 
"an inheritance incorruptible, and undcfiled, and that can 
not fade, reserved in Heaven for us." 2 

In grace you have the pledge, aye, the root of your future 
glorification in soul and body. If you still sigh in the 
servitude of the flesh, if you feel depressed by suffering and 
frailties, sigh with the Apostle after the freedom and glory 
of the children of God, where even your flesh will be spirit- 

1 I. Peter i. 5. * Ibi(L 4 . 

54 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

ualized, and, in the fulness of perfection,, free from all suffer 
ing and fear of death, beautiful as the sun and swift as the 
eagle, you will feel the power of grace and possess in the 
fullest abundance all those perfections which you perceive 
in visible things. 


Grace Elevates Man to the Participation in the 

Divine Cognition, to the Immediate Vision 

of Divine Glory. 


| HAT you may learn at this point, my dear 
Christian, what glory and happiness is hidden in 
grace, I will now exhibit it to you in its entire 
greatness, in that condition wherein the light of grace passes 
over into the light of glory. From this you will under 
stand how truly and perfectly we partake of the Divine 
nature by grace. Every nature is best known by its pecu 
liar force and activity, for in every nature these are different. 
Thus, plants are distinguished from minerals by their 
growth, their blossom and fruit ; animals differ from 
plants by their sensation and motion ; man again from the 
animal by his reason and free will. 

By his reason man is, in some degree, like unto God, but 
yet there is an infinite distance between the Divine and the 
human nature. . For the reason of man, and even that of 
the highest angels, can directly only know the creatures, 
finite and created beings ; but it cannot behold, face to 
face, the great and infinite G od. God, the Creator and Lord, 
may be known by rational creatures, but only from an im 
measurable distance ( " every one beholdeth Him afar off," ) 
as the glory of God is mere removed from the creature 
than the sun is from the earth. The creatures only see, as it 
were, the hem of His garment, the reflex of His own glory 
in His great and glorious creation. He Himself, however, 
"the invisible King of ages, whom no man hath seen, nor can 

1 Job xxxvi. 25. 

56 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

see, inhabit M" as the Apostle says, " light inaccessible." 1 
His light is too bright, His glory too great, His greatness 
too infinite for creatures to fix their weak eyes upon Him, 
without being dazzled. Even the Cherubim cover their 
faces and sink into the dust before Him, to adore Him in 
deepest reverence. God Himself alone can by His nature 
behold His being ; only the " only -begotten Son, who is in 
the bosom of the Father," 2 and is of the same nature with 
Him, beholds Him face to face ; only the Holy Spirit, who 
is in God, penetrates and fathoms His innermost nature, as 
also in man only the spirit, that is in him, knows and 
penetrates his inner nature. 3 To behold God, we must 
either be God or participate in the Divine nature. 

Well, then, my good Christian, your spiritual eye must 
also become Divine, as it were, and your soul must partake 
of the Divine nature, if you will see God face to face. 
The veil which covers your weak eyes must be removed ; 
the light of the Divine Sun must transform your sight, 
must make it sun-like and glorify it, that you may boldly 
gaze at it. And this the Holy Spirit effects in you, when 
by grace He makes you partake of the Divine nature. 
The Apostle describes this in beautiful words : 4 " Behold 
ing the glory of the Lord with open face, we are trans 
formed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the 
Spirit of the Lord." St. John also teaches : 5 "We shall 
be like to God, because we shall see Him as He is." And the 
Son of God Himself says to His Father : * " Father, the 
glory which Thou hast given Me, which I had with Tliee, be 
fore the world was, I have given to them." 

In Heaven we shall, moreover, know God as He knows 
Himself and as He knows us. " Then I shall know, even as 
I am known," says the Apostle. 7 But it is again impossi 
ble that we should have knowledge like that which is pe 
culiar to the Divine nature, if we are not really made to 
participate in the Divine nature, as a holy Doctor of the 

1 I. Tim. vi. 16. John i. 18. 3 I. Cor. ii. 11. * II. Cor. iii. 18. 

6 I. John iii. 2. 6 John xvii. 22. 7 I. Cor. xiii. 12. 

Participation in the Divine Cognition. 57 

Church l says ; the vision of God cannot be communicated 
to us, unless we are deified. And if, on the other 
hand, we in reality will partake of the Divine nature and 
be deified, that must be verified by our being called to 
partake in the Divine cognition. 

2. What a miracle, my dear Christian, what grace ! Must 
we not exclaim here with St. Peter: "Into His mar 
vellous light God hath called us" ! 2 Have you ever reflected 
upon the sublime greatness of this grace ? We must thank 
God already for giving us our bodily sight, by which we 
may behold the whole visible creation, with all its beauty- 
and magnificence. But this we have in common with the 
brutes ; and it may and ought to be the subject of our pride 
and boast that we possess another infinitely superior light 
within us, the light of reason, by which we perceive not 
only the exterior qualities of visible things, their color, 
their odor, their taste, but also their substance, their beau 
ty, their harmony, and their mutual relations; by which we, 
moreover, know spiritual things, our immortal soul, truth, 
virtue, and justice, and finally, God Himself in the image 
of His creation. How proud we should be if we possessed 
all the science that has ever been and is being discovered 
by human genius and application, or if we enjoyed the 
natural knowledge of even the angels ! But all this would 
never give us an immediate knowledge of the infinite truth 
and beauty of God ; so that we may thence conclude how 
much inferior our nature is to the Divine, and how no 
created eye can peer into the depths of the mysteries of 
God. It were even a godless temerity to desire to ap 
proach the unapproachable light of God : His glory would 
overwhelm us and death would be the penalty for our rash 
ness. " Man shall not see God and live" says Holy Writ, 3 
and again : "He that is a searcher of ( God s) majesty, shall 
he ovenuhelmed by glory." 4 

But, "the things that are impossible with men" says 

1 Dionys. Areop. vulg. de eccl. hler. c. 1, 3. I. Peter ii. 9, 
s Exodus xxxiii. ~Q. Prov. xxv. 27, 

58 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

St. Irenseus J in explanation of this, " are possible with 
God." 2 He descends to us, in His infinite power and 
goodness, to elevate us unto Himself ; He Himself intro 
duces us into His admirable light ; He fills us with His own 
light, that we may behold His light. " In Thy light we 
shall see light," says the Psalmist. 3 Only in Hits own light 
and not in our light can we see God. 

What is all natural light of creatures compared with this 
Divine light ? It is as the weak, dim light of a lamp, which 
illumines but poorly the narrow space of a human dwelling, 
compared to the glorious, heavenly light of the sun, which 
fills the whole immense world ; and the eye of reason in the 
creature, compared to the Divinely glorified eye of the 
Saints, is as the eye of the bat at the side of the clear eagle 
eye, which fearlessly directs its gaze to the sun and is not 
dazzled by its light. 

If, then, we experience in us a natural and inexpressible 
desire for the perception of truth and the enjoyment of the 
beautiful, why do we not seek to satisfy it where alone it can 
be entirely satisfied ? If we seek with s;) much labor to ac 
quire science, why do we not apply to the source of eternal 
light? All our natural knowledge is in the end only pitiably 
imperfect and we shall never be able to go beneath the sur 
face. But the light of grace will at once introduce us 
to the light of God, when we shall know not only 
the shadow but the substance and highest cause of truth, 
and in it shall know, in the most perfect manner, 
all that we now seek or already know. And, if created 
beauty already delights us so much, how should we not, 
with the royal poet, always seek His countenance, who is 
the fountain and infinite ideal of all transient beauty. 

3. In beatific vision grace makes us share in the Di 
vine happiness, by raising us up to the immediate enjoy 
ment of the infinite and highest good. As much as the 
Divine nature is above ours, so much the Divine beatitude 
must surpass that which is attainable and suitable to our 

1 Contra- baer. l. 4, c. 20, al. 37. 2 Luke xviii. 27. 3 Ps. xxxv. 10. 

Participation in the Divine Cognition. 59 

nature. The animal is not capable of the same enjoyment 
as man ; it can only delight in sensual things and percep 
tions. Man delights in spiritual things, in order, har 
mony, and beauty, in that, particularly, which is found in 
truth and virtue. In like manner the pleasure and beati 
tude of God has an object accessible only to Him, whose 
beauty and loveliness eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
and which hath not entered into the heart of man, but is 
evident only to his spirit His own infinitely good, beauti 
ful, and glorious being. But whilst God makes us, through 
His Holy Spirit, partakers of His Divine nature, He opens 
through Him also the mystery of His happiness, calls us to 
the enjoyment thereof, and makes us His associates there 
in. As He possesses Himself by His nature, so He will give 
Himself to us by His wonderful grace ; as He, by our partici 
pation in His nature, places us upon His throne and intro 
duces us into His light, so He will let us feast at His table. 
According to our nature He might have left us standing at 
a respectful distance before His door ; there we might have 
admiringly contemplated the greatness of His works, the 
beauty of His mansion ; and this would have been for us a 
joy and honor, as great as our poor heart might desire. 
But He will manifest to us His own beauty, in the enjoy 
ment of which He, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, is 
happy forever and ever ; that beauty which unites in itself 
the real and possible beauties of His works with all their 
wonderful diversity, that beauty which angels desire to 
behold and one ray of which suffices to make all created 
spirits intoxicated with joy. 

In truth, not the highest creature could have imagined 
or desired, much less claimed, such a happiness ! How 
much more should we be thankful to God for this inesti 
mable grace ! And what can the Lord demand less of our 
gratitude, than that we should have a great and burning 
desire for the gift which He dispenses so liberally ! Then we 
should always think and exclaim with the Psalmist : "My 
faceliatli sought Thee: Thy face, Lord, will 1 still seek." 

i PS. xxvi, 8, 

60 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

If we love Him as He loves us, then we shall, as the Apostle 
says, know Him as He knows us. 

" I cannot express, my God," says St. Anselm, 2 
" how happy Thy elect will be ; certainly they will rejoice 
according to the measure of their love, and they will love 
after the measure of their knowledge. But how great will 
be their knowledge and how great their love ? Certainly 
no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered, in this 
life, into the heart of man, how much they will know 
and love you in the life to come. I beseech Thee, God, 
that I may know Thee, love Thee, rejoice in Thee ; and if 
I cannot do so perfectly in this life, that I may at least 
progress from day to day, until I arrive at this perfection. 
Let my knowledge of Thee progress here and become per 
fect there ; let my love increase here and be perfect 
there ; that my joy may be great in hope here, and 
perfect in possession there. Lord, through Thy Son Thou 
biddest and counselest us to ask, and dost promise to grant 
that our joy shall be complete. I beseech Thee, then, 
true and faithful God, grant that my joy may be complete: 
may, in the meantime, my soul consider it, my tongue 
speak of it, my heart love it. May my spirit hunger for 
it, my flesh thirst for it, my whole being desire it, until I 
enter into the joy of the Lord, who, as the Triune God, be 
blessed forever. Amen." 

I. Cor. xiii. IS. 2 Anselm, in proslog. sub flnem. 


Grace makes us Partakers of the Sanctity of the 
Divine Nature. 


[LTHOTJGH the glories already mentioned are so 
exalted and Divine, yet it would seem that this 
one surpassed all others. It is, indeed, a great 
thing to behold all nature and all miracles far beneath our 
selves, to possess, next to God, and in virtue of His love, 
that same glory which He Himself possesses, to obtain 
the beginning and the root of heavenly happiness and im 
mortality. But, since nothing is more eminent in God 
Himself than His sanctity, it is a still greater privilege to 
participate in it. 

Those two remarkable images, in which the prophet 
Isaias l and the Apostle St. John in his revelation, 2 have 
represented the majesty of God, are thus explained by St. 
Cyril : The exalted throne of God signifies His highest 
glory, the jasper, His immutability, the rainbow, His eter 
nity, the seats of the twenty-four ancients, His wisdom, the 
seven lamps, His all-seeing and His all-governing Provi 
dence, the thunder and lightning, the omnipotence of His 
will, the crystal sea of glass, His immensity, the covering 
of His head and feet by the wings of the Seraphim, 
His incomprehensible infinity. But in this fulness of glor 
ies, nothing impresses the Seraphim, who look on with 
a thousand eyes, so much as the sanctity of God ; this 
fascinates their admiration, this they praise incessantly 
by the continual repetition of the song of glory : " Holy, 
holy, holy, art Thou, Lord God of Sabaoth." There- 

1 Is. vi. 2 Apoc _ iv> 

62 7 7ic Glories of Divine Grace. 

fore God is so frequently called the "Holy One of 
Israel/ because this name includes all others. When the 
Psalmist describes the glorious, eternal generation of the 
Son of God, he says but this one word, that in the splen 
dor of His sanctity, 1 He is begotten from the womb of the 
Father, 2 for by this sanctity all other perfections are height, 
ened and hallowed. 

Sanctity, indeed, signifies the highest quality of Divine 
goodness, namely, His singular and august eminence, pur 
ity, and rectitude. A creature may be good in virtue of 
its nature, and every creature is good as it proceeds from 
the hand of God. Thus the rational creatures also, for 
instance man, would be good in their nature even without 
supernatural grace, as long as they did not contradict this 
natural goodness by sin. But this is a very limited and 
finite goodness, connected with many imperfections, as 
with so many stains, a goodness which does not exclude sep 
aration from the highest good and may co-exist with sin. 
The Divine goodness, however, is the purest and most per 
fect that can be imagined, a light without any darkness 
or shadow of darkness, a light that never can be dimmed 
by the smallest spot. God is, Himself, essentially the 
highest good and can be separated from it as little as He 
can annihilate Himself. Hence we call God the alone 
Holy, the thrice Holy, thereby expressing the highest pre- 
jrogative of His nature. 

We shall therefore be perfect partakers of the Divine 
nature only when, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we 
participate also in its sanctity, and the holy Fathers iden 
tify this partaking of Divine nature, with being holy, as 
God is holy. They compare the sanctity of God with a 
great and potent fire, which seizes our imperfect nature, 
penetrates it, transforms it and cleanses it from all dross 
and stain, so that our goodness be similarly pure and per 
fect, as is the Divine. " Even the princes and powers of 
Heaven," says St. Basil, " are not by nature holy. The 

1 Especially the Hebrew text: In splendoribus sanctitatum. a Ps. cix. 3. 

Participation in the Divine Sanctity. 63 

iron, lying in the furnace, does not lose the nature of iron, 
and yet by its intimate union with the fire becomes fiery it 
self, and penetrated by the whole nature of the fire, assumes 
also its color, warmth, and efficiency. So the angels (and 
the souls of men) have, by their union with God, the essen 
tially Holy One, this sanctity inoculated and implanted in 
their whole being, with this difference only, that the Holy 
Ghost is by nature already holiness, whilst their holiness is 
a participation in His natural sanctity." 

Do you now understand, my dear Christian, with what] 
deep significance we call grace sanctifying ? It not only 
signifies that by grace we obtain forgiveness of sin, and 
henceforth will observe the commandments of God and sin 
no more, but rather, that our soul is made a most beautiful 
image of the Divine goodness and holiness. It further sig 
nifies that grace is irreconcilable with sin, and cannot co 
exist with it in the same soul. If you commit a mortal sin, 
you do not annihilate your nature, your natural faculties, 
and the light of reason; but grace audits accompanying- 
supernatural faculties and virtues immediately depart from 
your soul. For grace, being of a Divine nature and kind, 
can co-exist with sin as little as God Himself. Aye, when 
grace has terminated in the light of glory and has perfectly 
united your soul with God and made it like to Him, then 
you will lose even the ability to commit sin, and by its in 
herent Divine virtue, you will be as incapable of commit-j 
ting sin as God Himself. 

Yet how little do we consider the great preciousness of this 
gift and the superhuman dignity granted us by it ! f If man 
alone had received sanctity from the Holy Ghost," says St. 
Ambrose, 2 "we would, beyond doubt, be raised above all, 
even the highest angels; " and the Seraphim, who so solemn 
ly praise God as the thrice Holy, would very properly all re 
gard us with deepest reverence. Shall we alone, then, seek 
our honor in godlessness and impurity ? 

Even the most wicked and impious of sinners, in the 

1 Basil, contra Eunom. B. 3. 2 De Spir. S. 1. i, c. 7. 

64 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

depth of his degradation, cannot, in his innermost soul, re 
fuse admiration to that splendor of sanctity which shines 
forth in so many members of the holy Church of Christ, in 
whom God appears to live and act. But why have the 
Saints become so great and glorious, if not because they 
have co-operated with, and in their whole life expressed the 
image of that grace which we all may acquire ? All true 
Christians, who are in the state of grace, are called Saints 
by the Apostle, because they are sanctified in the waters of 
regeneration by the power of the Holy Ghost, and possess, 
so to speak, the substance of holiness. We all may and 
must become saintly as they, if not in the same degree, yet 
not less really and truly, because we are brethren and chil 
dren of the Saints, yea, children of the thrice holy God. 
What criminal frivolity is it, then, to soil this garb of inno 
cence, which we have received in holy baptism, by volun 
tary venial sin ! But what detestable wickedness would it 
be to rend it, cast it away from us, and trample it under foot 
by mortal sin ! 

Our nature already, though not annihilated by mortal sin, 
is averse to this great injustice offered to God, because it has 
been created by Him for His service. But supernaturally 
considered, what a monster must sin be, when we commit 
it after God has estranged us from it and so equipped us 
against it by a new nature, that to become capable of 
sinning, we must divest ourselves of this new nature and 
destroy the seed of God in our soul! Have pity, auda 
cious creature, have pity on your sublime condition and 
dignity, if you will not respect it. Be moved by the jubi 
lant chant of the Seraphim, singing " Hosanna," and if 
you esteem it little to offend the sanctity of God, which you 
cannot injure, spare at least your own sanctity, which you 
ruin by sin. 

Grace gives us a New, Higher Nature. 


|OU have seen, Christian reader, how high the grace 
of God elevates human nature. You ascend 
by it unto the bosom of God, to partake of His 
nature and the eminent prerogatives peculiar to Him, of 
His eternity and infinite perfection, of His knowledge and 
happiness, His goodness and holiness. But if you particT^ 
pate in the Divine nature, you receive a new nature yourself, 
and lay aside your former nature; you are changed and 
" transformed," as the Apostle says, " into the image of God 
from glory to glory ; " 1 you are, as it were, created anew, 
that you may receive a new being, not even the germ of j 
which your nature contained before. 

St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches us this in the following 
words: 2 " If we have once quit the sensual life, is it not evi 
dent that we, by surrendering, as it were, our life and unit 
ing ourselves to the Holy Spirit, are changed into a heaven 
ly image and transformed, to a certain extent, into another 
nature, and that we are justly called not only men, but chil 
dren of God and heavenly men, having become participants 
in the Divine nature ? " 

What we here say of a transformation of our nature does 
not mean that our natural substance is destroyed or ab 
sorbed in the Divine substance ; this would be an impious 
error. We speak here only of a transmutation, transforma- *- 
tion, and glorification of our nature. You would, however, 
esteem this change entirely too little, if you supposed that 

1 II. Cor. iii. 18. 2 In Joannem, 1. 11. c. 12, al. 27. 

66 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace makes us new men only in the sense in which a change 
of disposition or the acquirement of new habits makes us 
new men. 

The change wrought by grace comes from God, not from 
the will or power of the creature; it is a miracle of Divine 
Omnipotence, which lifts us up out of the limits of nature 
(as the holy Fathers teach), and so elevates and transforms 
us, that we are not only made other men, but more than f 
men, that we appear as beings of a Divine nature and kind. 

That we do not lose our natural substance in this trans 
formation the holy Fathers very often explain by that simile 
of fire already mentioned. Iron does not cease to be iron, 
when it is aglow with heat, as we may see from the fact 
that when it loses this heat it appears the same as it was 
before. But in its glowing condition it has no longer its 
natural hardness, inflexibleness, coldness, and dark color, it 
receives the brightness, warmth, and force of fire, and conse 
quently enters into a condition that is not natural to itself, 
but to the fire, and if we say that fire consumes iron, we 
do not mean that it destroys iron ; it consumes only its 
defects and imperfections. In a similar manner, as St. 
Cyril teaches, we do not put off the substance of our nature, 
but its lowliness and imperfection. " Those," he says, who 
are called by the faith of Christ to the sonship of God, 
have deposed the lowliness of their oivn nature and, glori 
fied ~by the grace of God and adorned with it as with a 
precious garment, are raised to a supernatural dignity." 
Our nature is not changed into another nature by grace, so 
that we lose what we already possess, but rather receives 
what it does not yet possess, as the Apostle well remarks : 2 
" We ivould not be unclothed, ~but clothed upon; that that 
which is mortal may be siv allowed up by life." 

The garb of grace, however, is not only superadded to the 
soul exteriorly as is the bodily raiment, it invests and pene 
trates the soul at the same time, as the glow of fire penetrates 
the iron. Grace communicates a new quality to the soul, 

1 In Joannem, 1. 1. 14. a II. Cor. v. 4. 

Grace gives us a New, Higher Nature. 67 

by which it is transformed into the image of God. This new 
quality is called the new, higher nature of the soul. The 
nature of a being is nothing else but the innate quality, by 
which it is distinguished from other things, has its peculiar 
forces and activities, and occupies its peculiar place among 
other beings. Thus we say that plants have another nature 
than minerals, animals another than plants, and man again 
a nature different from that of the brutes, because he is 
distinguished from them by the rationality and spirituality 
of his soul. The soul now receives in grace a new, heaven^N 
ly, and Divine quality, which is as different and as superior 
as the human nature is above the nature of the brute. If man" 
is naturally a servant of God, by grace he becomes a child of 
God ; if originally he was only above the nature of the brute, 
he now rises above his own nature, aye, even above the an 
gels ; if before he possessed the light of reason, he now re 
ceives the light of God, at present in faith, but hereafter 
in glory ; if he by nature is a good creature, by grace he is 
made a holy creature. He ascends a new step on the ladder 
of beings, is placed in a new relation to God, to his fellow- 
men, and to corporal things, and finally enters a new sphere 
of life more heavenly than earthly. 

This new quality of his nature is the germ and root of a 
higher life. As a tree of ordinary kind by the inoculation 
of a superior bud takes the nature of this bud, and brings 
forth its blossom and fruit, so our soul is in the highest 
manner ennobled by the communication of God s grace, 
which is called in Holy Writ the seed of God, and filled 
with the power of God, it assumes a Divine nature. It is 
raised from its natural abject position, is transplanted into 
the bosom of God as into a garden of Paradise, where in 
heavenly sunlight and in a paradisaic atmosphere it blossoms 
into a new life, which it never knew or imagined before. 
Or rather, to speak yet more appropriately witli the 
Apostle of the Gentiles and our Saviour Himself, the soul, as 
a wild olive branch, is ingrafted upon a good olive tree ; 2 it 

1 I. John iii. 9. 2 Romans xi. 24. 

68 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

becomes a branch of the true vine/ the Incarnate Son of 
God, in order to partake of His Divine life,, which is watered 
and nourished by the dew of the Holy Spirit. 

2. But if grace, in truth, confers upon us a new heavenly 
nature, what pains ought we, then, to take to acquire and 
preserve this nature, and live according to it ! How little 
esteem would he show for the dignity of human nature, who 
conducted himself as a brute and gave himself over to beast 
ly lusts and pleasures ! How utterly mean and abominable 
would that act be, by committing which he would cease to 
be a rational man, and would be lowered to the level of the 
brute ! That cannot happen, because the likeness of God in 
our soul is indelible. But man may, by the giddiness of in 
toxication and the still greater giddiness of impurity, 
reduce himself to a condition in which he is more similar 
to the brute than to man, and here we involuntarily shudder 
at such unnatural conduct. How much more should we 
shudder at every mortal sin, which not only casts a passing 
cloud over our heavenly nature, but altogether destroys and 
eradicates it ! 

Man in his natural state is composed, as it were, of two 
natures, a corporal and a spiritual ; in him there are two 
men, an outward and an inward man, says the Apostle, 2 a 
mortal and an immortal man. Since we cannot serve both 
natures at the same time, we must subject the corporal to / 
the spiritual. But as the flesh should serve the spirit, so * 
should our spirit serve God and His grace ; for, as the spirit 
is superior to the flesh, so is grace superior to the spirit. 
If the spirit subjects itself to the flesh, it is drawn down from 
its eminence to the level of the flesh and becomes carnal it 
self ; but if it gives itself up to grace and is penetrated and 
moved by it, it is carried up to God and becomes itself 
Divine. " Who loves the earth," says St. Augustine, " is of 
the earth ; who loves the world, is of the world ; who loves 
God, what shall I say, brethren ? Not I, but the Word of 
God will tell you ! who loves God, becomes God : IJtave 

1 John xv. 1. 2 II. Cor. iv. 1C. 

Grace gives us a New, Higher Nature. 69 

said: you are gods and sons of the Most High. " 1 In the 
same measure,, in which we co-operate with grace and tend 
towards the Author of grace, the Father of Light, we are 
filled with His light and glory, we are carried up to Him by 
His grace and partake of His nature. How detestable it is, 
then,, to permit one s self to be dragged into the mire of sen 
sual lust, when we may elevate ourselves so high on the 
wings of heavenly love ! 

We have far more reason to glory in grace than to dis 
regard it. F<5r what enthusiasm must animate our heart, 
when we consider the heavenly race to which we belong ! 
As true as this is, so true is it, likewise, that the sublime 
nature, which we possess, is not ours in virtue of our 
human nature, that we are not originally of the Divine 
race, and that we can obtain this so sublime nature only by 
the condescending grace of God. Lucifer forgot this 
when he beheld himself in the splendor of his heavenly 
light; Eve, too, forgot this, when she was misled by him 
through that same temptation. That we may not forget it 
also, God has not again given us with sanctifying grace 
those gifts which made the life of our first parents so 
happy and peaceful in the flesh, as if they possessed no 
carnal nature. He lets us feel very plainly that we are 
made of the slime of the earth, that we may not become 
conceited. Because we have, so to say, been caught up 
with the Apostle in the third Heaven, He has given us the 
sting of the flesh for our chastisement, our confusion, and 
our wholesome humiliation. 2 

But even this confusion shall not rob us of the sense of 
our heavenly dignity. For precisely therein the power of 
our higher nature of grace is manifested, that it descends 
to our weakness and poverty, and overcomes this weakness, 
and hereafter consumes it in the heavenly glory. There 
fore, we may say with the Apostle: "I glory in my infirm 
ities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which 
cause I please myself in m,y infirmities ; . . .for when I am 
freak, then am I powerful." 3 

1 Johnx. 24. 2 II. Cor. xii. 7. 3 II. Cor. xii. 9, 10. 

Grace is in a Certain Sense Infinite. 


IHE new nature, which grace confers upon us, has 
above all other created natures that sublime pre 
rogative,, that, as a participation in the infinite, 
Divine nature, it is in a certain sense infinite. 

In the first place, all other natures, as has been already 
explained, are only single rays of the Divine sun, refracted in 
different colors ; grace, however, is a pure, unbroken re 
flection of its infinite light. 

Grace, moreover, enables the soul to raise itself above the 
limits of its nature and its surroundings, to behold the in 
finite God in His infinite nature, to possess and enjoy Him. 
How could it do this, if it did not contain something of 
tlie infinite power of God ? If it does this, however, must 
we not, then, attribute to it a merit and value corresponding 
in some degree to the greatness of that infinite good which 
we possess by grace ? 

Besides this, all created natures have a circumscribed and 
distinctly definite limit of perfection, beyond which they 
cannot increase, unless they change their nature. If gold 
is pure from all foreign composite, it cannot become more 
perfect or purer gold than it is already. Every species 
of plants can attain a certain height and size, and beyond 
this it cannot extend. The different classes of animals 
grow only to a certain determined degree of corporal 
size and perfection, and if they have reached this, they 
can progress no farther. JP$$: ^?*^e outlived themselves 
and necessarily succumb^^tnm^ant retrogression and 
final dissolution. Eveife/tioiml^rcaftrares, from their na- 

Grace is in a Certain Sense Infinite. 7 1 

ture, cannot improve in an infinite degree. Their pro 
gress lasts as long as the development of their natural fac 
ulties, and since these are finite, their development also 
must have a determined and limited end. 

Grace alone knows no such restriction ; it alone is inclosed 
by no limits. Being a ray of the Divine nature glorifying 
our soul,, it has its measure and end only in the infinity of 
God ; it may increase daily and hourly, and incessantly 
grow richer, greater, and nobler ; it never trangresses its ap 
pointed limits, because it has none ; it always remains grace 
and is always a participation in the Divine nature ; yea, it 
always becomes more and more what it is destined to be. 
What thing would be able, says the angel of the schools, 1 
to place any limit to supernatural love (and the same may 
be said of grace, which grows in the same proportion), 
since it has its origin in the infinite and eternal power 
of God and is itself nothing else but a participation in 
the infinite sanctity of God ? Certainly the vessel of our 
nature, which receives it, is in itself narrow and limited. 
But grace, which is received, extends the capacity of our 
nature and every measure of grace received qualifies it for 
a still greater measure ; every degree of grace is the step 
leading to the next degree, so that one may ascend the 
higher, the farther one has already progressed. 

Every degree of grace is in itself infinitely valuable, more 
precious than all created things in Heaven or on earth, a 
treasure for which we should, with the Apostle, count all 
things as loss, that we may gain Christ and His grace. But 
this treasure is a thousand times more precious, because it 
is, at the same time, a capital, which, if we understand how to 
invest it, may easily be increased and multiplied in an in 
finite degree. Every supernatural action, performed in the 
state of grace, every moment in which the given grace is 
utilized and made to bear fruit, merits another increase of 
grace from God, and it rests only with man to double this 
grace again in a short time. The greater this increased 

1 Thorn. 2, 2. qu. 24. a. 7. 

72 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace is, ths greater is also the merit of our works, the 
easier and greater is a new increase and multiplying of our 

2. At the present day the world directs all its aims and 
endeavors, its whole speculation, as it says, to an easy and 
certain increase of fortune, especially by a shrewd manipu 
lation of stocks and bonds, and in a wonderfully short time 
the poorest man often becomes richer than a king. But if 
the children of the world are so shrewd in acquiring tem 
poral treasures, which do not render the possessor happy,and 
in the gain of paper, which the smallest spark may de 
stroy, must not the children of God feel ashamed, that they 
in their kind are not only not wiser, but incomparably more 
foolish? For with them there is question of acquiring still 
more easily true, eternal, and heavenly treasures and bonds, 
which no banker, no king, but the infinitely mighty God 
Himself will redeem with the whole fulness of His im 
mense wealth and His eternal happiness. 

Grace gives such an immense scope to our aims and de 
sires, and leaves them the freest possible play. At the same 
time, it has that advantage, that we need only desire it to 
find it, and to love its Donor in order to receive it. By 
this ardent desire for grace and heavenly happiness, and 
by a sincere love for the Father, we acquire and merit 
all good gifts, and that according to the measure of our 
love and desire. Why do we not here manifest a holy greed 
iness and importunity ? Why do we not, like St. Paul, 
forget the things that are behind and stretch forth our 
hand to those that are before? 1 We should measure the 
profit and advantage of our soul, not by the treasures 
already in our possession, but by those still to be acquired. 
The Apostle ran the course of perfection with rapid stride ; 2 
but we not only do not hurry, but often pause in our 
course, as if the smallest part of the eternal and highest 
good were already sufficient. The Apostle considers himself 
not yet perfect, when he possesses in so many and such 

1 Phil. iii. 13. "- Ibid. 12 seq. 

Grace is in a Certain Sense Infinite. 73 

great good works, in his countless sufferings and glorious 
miracles,, the best pledge and evidence of an extraordinary 
perfection ; he always seeks something higher and more 
perfect. That which we still want is infinite, that which 
we possess already is little and insignificant ; but our God, 
who is liberal in dispensing His gifts and Himself, will 
cease to increase our small fortune, only when we tire 
of our progress and of gratefully uniting our love with 
His. Why do we commit such an injustice against God, 
and His grace, and our own selves ? Let us remem 
ber the wife of Lot, 1 who, instead of looking forward, 
looked behind her and was turned into a statue of salt. 
Let this example serve as a grain of salt to season our 
hearts with prudence and spur us on to a holy zeal. 

The miser delights not so much in all his possessions as 
he is annoyed and troubled by the least thing he does not 
possess ; about the former he is quiet and secure, but the 
latter he pursues with a zeal that knows no bounds nor 
rest. "All other passions," says St. Isidore, "have a sea 
son of rise and decline; but the terrible love of gain knows 
no end, despises to be satisfied, permits no enjoyment; it al 
ways lives, or rather it revives from day to day, and seeks 
always to increase in strength and violence. " 

Oh, that we were at least equally zealous in the pursuit of 
the heavenly treasures of grace ! How soon we should ob 
tain them in greatest abundance ! What can in this case ex 
cuse our indolence ? Perhaps the fear that we should also 
become unhappy as the miser by such restless activity ? 
The miser, indeed, becomes unhappy by his insatiable de 
sire, because he never enjoys his acquisition and must lose 
all in the end. A holy desire for grace, however, leads us 
to an eternal rest in God, who will satisfy us the more, the 
greater our desire and hunger have been on earth. Grace, 
moreover, permits us to enjoy our possessions on the way to 
that end, since our desire is to grow continually, precisely 
because at every step we more and more experience, how 
sweet and pleasant the Lord is to those who serve Him. 

1 St. August, ad Ps Ixix. 

Grace and the Incarnation of the Son of God. 


| HE glories of grace,, hitherto described, are so 
great, so superb and Divine, that it would seem, 
outside of God and next to Him, there were noth 
ing more sublime in Heaven or on earth. Indeed, because 
they are in a certain sense infinite, we could not, without 
a special Divine revelation, either by the light of reason, or 
even by the light of faith, discover anything greater. Now, 
God has revealed to us two other mysteries, which are 
doubtless greater and more glorious than that of grace: 
the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, and the mys 
tery of the Divine maternity of Mary. But the more we 
consider these ineffable mysteries in the whole depth of 
their significance and importance, the more will we under 
stand that, although grace is not superior or equal to 
them, yet it is placed in its true light by these mysteries, 
and receives from them a very special beauty and glory. 

By the Incarnation the human nature of Christ was 
united with the Divine Word in one and the same person, 
so that henceforth God is truly man and one Man is truly 
God . The human nature is not changed into the Divine ; 
but it loses its individual independence, and is so implanted 
and ingrafted in the second Person of the Divinity that it 
belongs to this Divinity and enjoys a really Divine dignity. 
By grace, however, we are not made truly God ; we retain 
not only our nature, but also our personality, and are dei 
fied only in so far as we are made similar to the Divine na 
ture by a godlike quality. Thus the elevation of the human 
nature of Christ to the infinite dignity of the true God is 

Grace and the Incarnation of the Son of God. 75 

certainly infinitely superior to our union with God by grace. 

But if we consider closely, we see that this elevation of 
the human nature of Christ is not an honor accorded a 
human person, because there is no such person in Christ. 
It is rather an infinite condescension of God, who descends 
from His eminence to appropriate to Himself a created na 
ture. Therefore, we do not say that a man was made 
God, but that God was made man. By grace, however, a 
created person, man, without being God or being made 
God, nevertheless partakes of the Divine nature, and this 
it is that makes us admire grace almost more than the In 

" Which is the more adorable mystery," says St. Peter 
Chrysologus : x "that God gave Himself to the earth or 
that He gives you to Heaven ; that He Himself enters into 
such intimate union with our flesh, or that He introduces 
us to companionship with the Godhead ; that He is born, 
like us, to servitude, or that He generates us as His free- 
born children ; that He adopts our poverty, or that He 
makes us His heirs and the co-heirs of His only begotten 
Son ? Certainly it is more adorably wonderful, that earth 
should be transferred to Heaven, man should be transformed 
by the Deity, and the condition of slavery receive the rights 
of dominion." In another place 2 the same Saint says: 
" So great is the Divine condescension towards us, that the 
creature knows not which to admire more, that God has 
descended to our servitude, or that He has transported us 
to His Divine dignity." 

2. The elevation of man by grace balances, as it were, the 
condescension of God in the Incarnation ; as low as God 
descends, so high He elevates man. Between God and our 
selves a wonderful exchange takes place, since He adopts our 
nature to make us partake of His Divine nature. There 
fore, the Church makes the priest say at the Offertory in 
Holy Mass : " God, let us partake of His Divinity, who 
has deigned to partake of our humanity." 

1 Homil. 67. 

76 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

And this equalization, this balance between the humilia 
tion of God and the elevation of man by grace has so deep 
a reason, that the holy Fathers teach that the Son of God 
was made man on account of grace, to elevate us by grace. 
" God was made man, that man might be made God," says 
St. Augustine ; "the Son of God ivas made the son of man, 
that the children of men might be made children of God." 
Many other Fathers teach the same as this Saint, thus 
only repeating the sublime saying of the Apostle : 3 "God 
sent His Son, made of a woman, .... that we might receive 
the adoption of sons." 

St. Fulgentms gives a beautiful explanation of this pas 
sage: 4 " God was born of man that man might be born of 
God. The first birth of Christ, as the Son of God, was of 
God, the second of man ; our first birth is of man, our 
second of God. And because God, to be born of woman, 
adopted the reality of the flesh, He has given us, at our re 
generation in baptism, the spirit of sonship. What Christ 
was not by nature at His first birth, that He was made at 
His second birth by grace, that we might also be made, by 
the grace of the second birth, what we were not by nature 
of the first. God, however, has brought us grace when He 
was born of man ; we, on the other hand, receive grace 
gratuitously, that by the donation of the Incarnate God, 
we might partake of the Divine nature." As truly, then, 
as God is born of man in adopting our nature, so truly is 
the Divine nature communicated to us, with this differ 
ence only, that the Son of God not only adopted the quali 
ties, but the essence of human nature ; we, however, only 
partake of the Divine nature by a godlike quality. 

If, then, the condescension and humiliation of God in His 
Incarnation are so infinitely great, as great as is the infinite 
distance between G od and the creature, must not the eleva 
tion of man to God, which is placed on the same scale with 

1 S. Aug., Serm. 13, detemporeetal. pass. See Petavius, de Incarn. Verbi, 1. 2, c.i 

2 St. Athanasius in Petav. 1. c. 3 Gal. iv. 4. 

4 Ep. 17, sive lib. ad Petrura diacon , cap. 7. nn. 14-15. 

Grace and the Incarnation of the Son of God. 77 

God s condescension, aye, which is its cause and reason, 
must it not likewise appear infinitely and incomprehensibly 
great ? 

3. But the humanity of Christ may be considered not 
only in its personal union with the Son of God, but also in 
the condition and qualities which it received on account of 
its Divine dignity ; and here again the inestimable great 
ness of grace is made manifest. God, in all His wisdom 
and power, could give the human soul of His Divine Son no 
more worthy condition than that which our soul receives 
by grace. This is the sublimest that can be found in a 
creature, for it deifies the creature and makes it, in the 
highest sense, a participant of the Divine nature. This 
difference only exists between the soul of Christ and our 
own : the soul of the Son of God has every claim and 
right to grace, and does not receive it as a gratuitous gift, 
but merits it ; it receives it directly and in exceeding 
abundance, and finally the soul of Christ can in nowise 
lose grace, whilst our soul receives grace as a gratuitous 
gift through Christ, in a limited measure, and may easily 
lose it again by sin. 

It cannot, then, be denied that the Incarnation, in all its 
circumstances, is an infinitely greater and more sublime 
mystery than grace ; but since there exist between both 
such an intimate union and similarity, grace does not suffer 
from the comparison, but is rather placed in a still brighter 
light by it. 

4. But besides this, grace, as we obtain it through 
Christ, receives from the Incarnation an additional and 
indescribable, a new and ineffable splendor. 

The Divine dignity, which the humanity of Christ re 
ceives through the personal union with the Eternal Word, 
is reflected upon all the members of humankind. As 
that humanity was made the true body of Christ, so all 
regenerated mankind was made the mystical body of Christ. 
Christ is, indeed, as much and more than Adam, the Head 
of mankind, and we are His members. Inasmuch as v/n 

7 8 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

are one with Him, we enjoy before grace already a certain 
supernatural dignity, arid as He had a right to grace, so we 
acquire a right to it through Him. By Him mankind ap 
propriates grace and possesses it as something which is 
due to it on account of its Head. Christ is the heavenly 
vine, permeated by the fulness of Divine life, and we are 
the branches, into which this life is diffused. 

" Christian soul," St. Leo exclaims, " acknowledge 
your dignity ; know that as a Christian you surpass the 
angels not only in nature, but also in grace ! For the an 
gels are kindred to God only by one tie, because they par 
take of His Divine nature ; you, however, in a twofold man 
ner., because God has also adopted your nature. If, there 
fore, these pure and holy spirits were capable of envy, they 
would envy us, because God hath taken upon Himself the 
nature, not of angels, or archangels, but the seed of Abra 
ham"* We may, then, what is not permitted to the 
angels, account Him as one of our own, and call Him our 
brother. "Very foolish," says the venerable monk Job/ 
"are they who would rather be angels than men." For 
although the angels are not subject to pain, suffering, and 
death, yet they have not God as their Brother, and if we 
are exposed to so many sufferings and tribulations, we are 
consoled by that supreme honor, to see God Himself as 
sume this so direly punished nature, and share our misery 
with us. Oh, how wicked and foolish were the pride that 
would not appreciate and be satisfied with such an honor ! 
But if you are able, Christian soul, to appreciate in some 
measure this honor, then beware, too, of desecrating this 
your Divine dignity by any conduct unbecoming it, lest 
anything be said of a brother of Christ that were improper 
even for a man or an angel, and suitable only to the char 
acter of the devil. You ought to belong, in thought, word, 
and deed, to none but Him, who, entering into relationship 
with us, has adopted us unto His own. "Let us esteem our 
Head/ St. Chrysostom tells us, 3 "and always remember of 

1 Hcb. li. 1C. " Lib. 3. de Incarn. 3 Homily 3, ad Ephes. 1. 

Grace and the Incarnation of the Son of God. 79 

what an adorable Head we are members. It is certainly prop 
er that we should surpass even the angels and archangels in 
virtue, since God, by assuming the human nature, has 
placed all things beneath its feet." The Saint then 
continues to speak in this strain, and concludes with the 
sorrowful but just complaint : " Is it possible that the 
body of such a Head is cast before the devils, to be abused 
or trodden under foot by them, and that we do not shud 
der at such a horrible crime ? " 

5. By holy baptism we are incorporated in the mystical 
body of Christ, and in token and pledge of this union with 
Christ, we receive the sacramental character. By this char 
acter we are Christ s and He is ours ; by it we are really 
Christians; we are, as it were, Christ Himself, in as far as 
we, the body, and the Head form one whole. The character 
is indelible in our soul and gives us, as long as we live, a 
right to the grace of God ; for the body of Christ must also 
be filled by Christ s life of glory. But it leaves us this 
right only so long as we live up to His command. If it is, 
then, a great crime to banish grace from our nature, because 
it is in itself such a great boon, how much greater is the sin, 
when we deprive a member of the body of Christ of its heav 
enly life! And if it is a criminal neglect to permit ourselves 
to be robbed of grace, how much more criminal is it to cast it 
away, now that it has become our entire property, that we 
have, in the character of our soul, Christ Himself as a pledge 
that no power in heaven or on earth can wrest it from us, now 
to dispose of this grace and of ourselves to the devil! Let us, 
therefore, hear how St. Gregory Nazianzen teaches us to meet 
the attacks of the devil : "If he tempts you to avarice, and at 
any time represents to your eye all the kingdoms of the world 
as belonging to him, and offers them as a reward to you, if 
you will adore him; then despise him as a poor beggar, and in 
view of the holy seal of your soul, say to him : I also am the 
image of God, and am not cast down from the glories of 
Heaven through pride, as yourself ; I have put on the Lord 
Jesus Christ ; it is meet, rather, that you should adore me. 

8o Ths Glories of Divine Grace. 

Believe me that these words will conquer him and make 
him retire with confusion into darkness." 1 

Consider,, finally, Christian soul, that however high and 
exalted the dignity may be, which you possess as a member 
of the body of Christ, this dignity becomes truly precious 
for you by grace alone, and that without grace it will profit 
you nothing, but will, on the contrary, work your greater 
perdition. Only inasmuch as you partake also of the spirit 
and life of Christ, will it be profitable to you to belong to 
the body of Christ by the seal of baptism. To be a mem 
ber of Christ is certainly a great, an infinitely great honor; 
but the dishonor, too, is so much greater to be only a dead 
member ; as such, you will finally be utterly cut off from 
the body. Even then you do not lose the mark impressed 
upon you by it, but it will not be a mark of blessing for 
you, but one of malediction and damnation. Grace, 
however, makes you a living member of Christ, by par 
ticipation in His Divine nature. It can be a sign only of 
blessing, not of malediction. It effects that you not only 
take part in the sufferings and death of Christ, whilst on 
earth, but that you are also glorified with Him hereafter, to 
be united with Him for all eternity, a ad to live in Him and 
through Him the blessed life of Heaven. With grace you 
gain Christ entirely, without grace you entirely lose Him. 

Say, then, what should you be unwilling to do, suffer, 
and sacrifice, that Christ the God-man, the King, Father, 
and Brother, the Head, the Crown, the Delight and Joy of 
mankind, were not taken from the world ? All this, how 
ever, is lost for us, if we lose grace. Let that be, then, our 
only fear, to be separated from Christ, and that our only 
desire, to be united with Christ by grace ; for all things, 
says St. Gregory Nazianzen, we should count as shadows, 
vanity, and dreams, because, when opposed to grace, they 
are pure nothings. 

1 Or. 40 ID s. lumina. 

Grace and the Dignity of the Mother of God. 


the mystery of the Incarnation not a human 
person, but a human nature only, is elevated to a 
Divine dignity. The Divine maternity, however, 
is a supernatural dignity, which was communicated to a 
human person ; it is, therefore, more easily compared with 
the dignity granted us by grace. 

To prevent any misunderstanding, we must, above all, 
faithfully hold that in Mary grace cannot be separated 
from her Divine maternity. That precisely is the deep 
meaning of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception 
so solemnly proclaimed but a few years ago by the Church 
amid the joyful applause of all her children, that the 
Mother of God cannot be supposed to have been despoiled, 
for one moment even, of God s grace. "God is inseparably 
united with her," says the holy bishop and martyr Metho 
dius in the third century. Because she communicated 
her human nature to the Son of God, she has a right, 
as none other, to the participation in His Divine nature 
by grace. As Mother she forms one person, as it were* 
with her Son, who was conceived of her flesh, and dwelt 
nine months in her chaste bosom. His rights are her 
rights ; His gifts are her s ; His sanctity is her sanctity. 
She is that woman whom St. John beheld in his reve 
lation, who does not receive the light of the Divine Sun as 
if from afar, but is altogether surrounded and inclosed by 
this Sun. Therefore the grace, which fills her soul has 
this excellent prerogative above the grace of all other 
creatures, that it is especially due to her, as the grace of 

82 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

her Divine Son is due to Him, and so necessarily due, that 
she can never lose it or be without it, and so plentifully 
due, that we all may draw therefrom. As it is said of 
her Son, that He is full of grace and truth, so she is called 
by the angel, not only blessed with grace, but full of grace. 
As He is the own and only begotten Son of the Father, so 
is Mary His first-born daughter. 

If we, therefore, consider the sublime dignity of Mary, as 
it unites in her grace with the Divine maternity, and this 
maternity with grace, then we may not venture to com 
pare with it our heavenly dignity, which we have received 
by grace. But if we, for a moment, abstract from this 
union, and consider the maternal dignity of Mary in it-self 
alone, then we may safely assert, without fear of prejudice 
to her, that grace is a greater gift and confers a higher 
dignity than the Divine maternity. 

As Mother of God according to the flesh, Mary ranks 
high above all creatures ; she deserves the love and re 
spect of her Son, the reverence of the angels, the service of 
men, and beholds all things beneath her. But she would 
rather be without all this and without the sovereignty in 
Heaven and on earth ; she would gladly give up the privi 
leges and honors of the Mother of God, rather than lose 
grace. She would rather be a daughter of God by grace, 
than the Mother of God by nature ; for she well knows 
that Jesus, although He embraces her with an incomparable 
love, would nevertheless love another soul more if this soul 
were richer in grace. 

Christ Himself wished to intimate this, when He spoke 
the memorable words to those who would, during His ser 
mon, introduce His Mother and His relatives : " Who is My 
Mother, and who are My brethren ? And stretching forth His 
hand towards His disciples, He said : Behold My mother and 
My brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of My Father, 
who is in Heaven, he is My brother, and sister, and mother." 
On another occasion, when a certain woman from the 

1 Matth. xii. 18-:0. 

Grace and the Dignity of the Mother of God. 8 

people called His Mother blessed in the words : " Blessed 
is the womb that bore Thee and the breasts that gave Thee 
suck/" He answered with deep meaning : " Yea, rather, 
blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it." 
He certainly did not wish,, in these two places, to deny 
His Mother and do her injustice. He intended rather to 
say that His Mother is worthy of Him only for that reason, 
because she performs the will of His Father in the most 
perfect manner ; she hears His word and keeps it, and pos 
sesses in the fullest measure the grace of God, and that if 
another soul (which cannot for a moment be supposed) 
were more perfect in this respect than His Mother, He 
would honor such a soul more than His Mother. 

Indeed, as Mother of our Saviour in the flesh, she had 
given birth to Him only according to the flesh ; she had 
received the Eternal Word into her bosom, to invest Him 
with a human nature, and she thus enjoyed a natural rela 
tionship with Him. But by receiving the Word of God 
into her soul, she conceived and brought forth her Son also 
spiritually, she was clothed with the splendor of His Divine 
nature, and thus entered also into a heavenly relationship 
with Him. Certainly this last relation cannot be sep 
arated from the first and is necessarily connected with it ; 
yet it remains true what St. Augustine says : " The mater 
nity would have profited the Virgin nothing, if she had not 
borne Christ still more happily in spirit than she bore 
Him in the flesh." From this it by no means follows, 
that the maternity of Mary according to the flesh is of 
little or no value to her. Its highest privilege and its 
sublimest significance rather consist in its being inseparable 
from grace and having it attached to it as a necessary 

2. But if the Divine maternity of Mary would have been 

profitless without grace, and if Mary had rather possessed 

this than the former alone, how may we dare to compare 

and prefer any other purely human dignity to grace ! 

1 Luke xi. -:7, S. 

84 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

How may we love fame among men more than the honor 
to stand in grace with God ! How may we cherish rather 
to appear great in the eyes of men, than to know our 
names written in the Book of Life ! How may we boast 
of possessing a temporal advantage over our fellow-men, 
when they may surpass us in the grace of God, and our 
Saviour almost makes us the equals of His own Mother by 
this grace ! 

By grace we in reality are in a wonderful manner rendered 
similar to the Mother of God. Not only was it impossible 
for the Son of God to adorn the soul of His Mother, as 
little as His own, with a perfection of a higher kind than 
grace confers ; He, indeed, had to grant her this grace in 
a much larger measure and much higher degree ; but we 
imitate in ourselves the maternity of Mary by the reception 
of grace. The same Holy Spirit that descended into the 
bosom of Mary, to invest her with a holy fertility, also 
descends into our soul, to generate, in a spiritual manner, 
the Son of God. As the Blessed Virgin, by lending a 
willing ear to the word of the angel, and by fulfilling the 
will of her heavenly Father, was made the Mother of the 
Son of God in the flesh and in spirit, so must our soul 
give birth spiritually to the Son of God by faithfully re 
ceiving the Word of God and corresponding to the com 
mand of God, who will give it His grace. Yea, even accord 
ing to the flesh, the Son of God comes to us to dwell in 
us, as Mary bore Him in her bosom for nine months, and 
will be one with us in the flesh, as He is with His Mother. 
Can we be surprised, then, that our Saviour says : Whoso 
ever shall do the will of My Father, who is in Heaven, is 
My mother, brother, and sister ? And must not we, in 
thanksgiving for the similar grace that God has given us, 
intone the same hymn with Mary and exclaim : " My 
soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoiceth in God 
my Saviour ; for He that is mighty, hath done great things 
to me." 

But if it was necessary that, on account of her mater- 

Grace and the Dignity of the Mother of God. 85 

nity, Mary should be so pure and holy as never to suffer 
the stain of the slightest shadow of sin ; if we shudder at 
the thought that she should have been able to offend, even 
by the least fault, the Son,, whom she bore in her bosom, 
or perhaps even to lose His grace by a mortal sin ; must 
not we, also, in view of our intimate union with Christ, re 
gard the least sin as a terrible and atrocious crime ? 

3, Another sweet consideration we must not pass over 
on this occasion. Mary is greater and more exalted than 
we, because she is the Mother of God and at the same 
time our mother. But how can the Mother of God be our 
mother also ? She is not our mother according to our 
human nature, as we have received this from Eve, and not 
from her. She is rather our mother in so far as we are the 
brethren of her only Son and the living members of His 
body. She is our mother according to grace, by which we 
have received anew, heavenly nature and partake of the 
Divine nature of her Son, and indeed, as only God alone 
can be our Father by grace, so our mother by grace can be 
no other than the Mother of God. 

Oh, what delight must fill our soul at this thought, and 
how must our heart thrill with joy in the sublime con 
viction that we are so closely related to the Mother of God, 
and may rightly call the Queen of Heaven and earth our 
mother ! But how highly should we esteem, too, the in 
heritance she bequeaths to us, the pledge of her maternal 
love, the image she impresses upon our soul, to make it 
like to her and her Divine Son ! How tenderly should we 
love and honor her, and in token of our gratitude, endeavor 
to guard and protect the great gift of grace which she 
grants us through her Son ! How carefully should we be 
on our guard, lest by the loss of grace we show ourselves 
unworthy of such a great mother and lose the dignity of 
her children ! 

How much God Himself Esteems Grace. 


IFTER all that has now been said, Christian soul, 
you will not only believe, but clearly see, that 
grace, which includes so many and such incom 
parable privileges and gifts, must be very, aye, infinitely 
precious. But if all this leaves no impression upon your 
heart, either because you do not see these glories with your 
corporal eyes, or because the visible and transitory riches 
of the world fascinate you too much with their charms, 
then learn the infinite value of grace from the infinite 
value of the price which God Himself lias paid for it. 
If you cannot estimate it yourself, see how much God has 
valued it, and if you cannot understand it, submit your 
intellect to the obedience of faith, by making the infalli 
ble judgment of God your own ; weigh the value of grace 
in the infallible balance of God. 

And what do you behold ? What could the great God, 
with all His infinite wisdom, power, and goodness do 
more than He has done, to procure us grace ? What 
greater things could He sacrifice for it than He has really 
sacrificed ? He has not spared His own Son, His own blood, 
His own life of infinite value. 

Even the human life of the Son of God is a Divine life 
on account of the infinite dignity of His person, and can 
only be sacrificed for the sake of another Divine life. 
Neither Heaven nor earth, with all the splendor and the 
countless number of beings they contain, was worthy 
to be bought and saved by the life of the Son of 
God, or even by a tear or a drop of His blood. On the 

How much God Himself Esteems Grace. 87 

other hand, theologians say that the Son of God, even if 
He should have to acquire grace for one soul only, would 
not have become man and died in vain. By sacrificing 
His life for us, then, the Son of God wished to indicate 
that He must purchase for us the life of the children of 
God, and that the grace that adorns our soul possesses an 
equally infinite value as the precious blood of His holy body. 
For if His corporal life is of infinite dignity, because it 
belongs to a Divine person, the life of grace is of infinite 
value, because it makes us partakers of the Divine nature. 
2. A disgraceful treason had irrecoverably lost man the 
grace which God, in His infinite love, had originally be 
stowed upon him. Then God wished to acquire it again 
for him with equal or even greater love, and to that end 
made every effort that His infinite wisdom could invent 
and permit. He therefore conceived a plan, which by its 
unheard-of novelty amazed the whole heavenly host. He 
Himself would become man, to restore to mankind the 
dignity of His children and bring them back to His Divine 
paternal bosom. Behold the Son of God, as He leaves the 
throne of His Father, to seek one of His servants in the 
most remote corner of His kingdom, and to inclose Him 
self within the bosom of a human being, in a poor cot 
tage at Xazareth ! Behold, how low He descends, passing 
by the angels, and with what zeal He takes upon Himself 
all the trials and sufferings of human nature ! Would it 
not seem as if He intended to purchase His own salvation, 
His life, His happiness, His glory and Divinity at such a 
great, such an unprecedented price ? Oh, He desired and 
wished nothing else than to acquire grace, which the world 
estimates so lightly, and did not believe He purchased it too 
dearly with such great sacrifices and at such a high price ! 
He purchased it, moreover, not for Himself, but for us ; 
and if we must, with our own sacrifices, acquire a certain 
good for others, we certainly will not pay too dearly for 
it, and if we do give a great price for this good, it must 
be of indescribable value. 

88 77ie Glories of Divine Grace. 

If, then, the Son of God, who in His infinite wisdom 
estimates all things according to their true value, would 
purchase grace so dearly for us, how must we, then, be 
ashamed that we bear its loss so easily, and having lost it, 
do not even miss it ! Every moment that we are without 
grace ought to be more terrible for us than hell ; and we 
are able to let days, weeks, and months elapse in the state 
of sin, and all the while quietly and calmly sleep, eat, 
play, and enjoy ourselves ! The great God humbles and 
annihilates Himself to give us lost grace again ; and we, 
who are the special subjects of this grace, who stand in so 
great need of it, we faithless mortals destroy it by our sins 
and crimes, when we are deceived by the shadow of vain 
glory, or the gratification of a miserable indulgence ! How 
can we esteem that so lightly, which God considers of 
such great value ! 

3. It did not satisfy Christ merely to descend from Heav 
en upon earth ; for thirty-three years He would labor 
and suffer in His human nature. Because, even in His 
humanity, He was the true Son of God, all His actions had 
an infinite merit, and by one drop of His precious blood He 
might have obtained for us pardon of our sins, by one act 
of love to His Heavenly Father, by one act of glorifying 
God, He might have merited grace again for us. But no; to 
make us fully aware of the infinite value of grace, He would 
show that not even a God-man can do and suffer too much 
for it. Therefore, He has suffered all that man can suffer, 
so that His sufferings may be called infinite, not only in 
value, but also in their measure ; therefore, He fasted 
forty days, in order to satiate us with the bread of grace ; 
therefore, He had His body torn with scourges, in order to 
clothe us with the robe of grace ; therefore, His sacred head 
was crowned with thorns, to adorn us with the crown of 
His grace ; therefore, He had His hands and feet pierced 
by sharp nails and shed His precious blood, to pour out 
into our soul the heavenly waters of grace ; finally, He sac 
rificed His Divine life on the ignominious instrument of 

How much God Himself Esteems Grace. 89 

the cross,, to raise us to the throne of grace and to fill us 
with Divine life. 

Consider,, Christian reader, and openly speak your opin 
ion : can that be so very unimportant, which the Son 
of God will acquire in such a laborious manner ? You so 
easily believe all men, who promise you liberty, blessing, 
and happiness, and proclaim themselves the true saviours of 
the world ; but as soon as it would become necessary to 
purchase your promised happiness by their own sacrifices, 
they are not in the least prepared to do this. From this 
you may learn how insincere their good wishes are, how 
little they really love you, and how little they themselves 
esteem the goods which they promise you. Why will you 
not believe your Saviour, who makes so many and such 
great sacrifices in your behalf ? If He should tell you to 
suffer all that He has suffered in order to merit grace, you 
would be obliged to believe Him, the Eternal Truth, that 
grace were worthy of such a price. How much more 
readily must you believe it now, when He has proven, by 
facts, that even the God-man of infinite dignity cannot 
suffer too much for grace. If you believe this, then you 
will understand, also, that all those little sufferings which 
poor man may undergo for the sake of grace, are noth 
ing compared to its infinite value. If you had all to suf 
fer what Christ has suffered, if you had to endure even all 
the torments of hell, you could not, with all this, merit the 
least degree of grace. Thank your Saviour, then, from your 
whole heart, for having suffered so much for your sake, 
and endeavor to be made conformable to Him in His suffer 
ings, as far as possible, and to show thereby how much you 
have learned to esteem grace. 

4. Certainly that is a great good, which has cost thf 
Son of God His life. But even this Christ did not deem 
a sufficient recompense for grace. He went still farther, 
and to propogate grace amongst men, He instituted a sacra 
ment and a sacrifice, which contain nothing less than His 
own body and blood. It was not enough for Him to be 

go The Glories of Divine Grace. 

born once, to die once, to be buried once, only. In a mys 
terious manner, in the hands of the priest, He would be 
born again a thousand or a million times, at every hour 
and over the whole world ; Ho would renew the sacrifice 
of the cross upon the altars of the holy Church, and be 
buried again in the hearts of the faithful. Oh, how much 
insult and dishonor must He always suffer in this holy 
sacrament, when the defiled hands of a wicked priest 
come in contact with Him, when poor and unadorned al 
tars shelter Him, or when even a heart defiled with sin 
receives Him ! Why those countless steps and journeyings 
in which the Son of God untiringly descends every day 
from Heaven upon earth ? What impels Him is His infi 
nite zeal to give us grace, whilst we, in dreadful blind 
ness, scarcely move a step to obtain it, and on the contrary, 
pursue, with full sail, that which may despoil us of grace? 
God lias performed so many and such great works, and still 
acts and suffers for the sake of grace ; but what and how 
little do we labor and suffer, or even wish to do and 
/ suffer ? 

But if the intrinsic value of grace were not so great in 
itself, that it ought to be purchased at an immense price, 
the price that was actually rendered for it ought to give it 
an infinite value in our eyes. For we hold anything in 
higher honor already, because we have obtained it with 
great labor and many sacrifices ; its great cost enhances and 
multiplies its value. When David, in a military expedition, 
suffered much from thirst, and some of his brave warriors 
had, with great labor and danger, brought a drink of water, 
he considered the water, though in itself of no value, 
yet, on account of the danger it had cost his soldiers, 
too precious to bo drunk by him, and offered it to the 
Lord. 1 And yet his soldiers had not really sacrificed their 
life, but only exposed it to danger. Must not the sacri 
fice, which Christ has made for grace, render this doubly 
precious to us ? 

1 II. Kings xxiii. 14-17. 

How muck God Himself Esteems Grace. 91 

Yes, grace is as infinitely precious as its price, the blood 
and life of Christ, which was offered for it. Who despises 
it, despises not only the eternal and infinite treasures con 
tained in its bosom, but also the price with which Christ 
has purchased it. St. Eusebius of Emisa says very sig 
nificantly : " I feel that I am something great, that I am 
a work of God ; but I am conscious of being something 
far greater, aye, incomparably greater, because I am re 
deemed at such a rich, such a superabundant price, that I 
appear to equal God in value. " And, in another place, a 
the same Saint remarks : "Not gold, nor an angel, but the 
Author of our salvation Himself was laid in the balance, 
that man might, at least from the great price, learn the 
greatness of his dignity." 

As often, then, as you exchange grace for sin, so often do 
yon, in the most insolent and shameful manner, trifle with 
the life, the blood and death of the great and terrible Lord 
and God ! All the labor of many years of His ardent love, 
a love that spared not itself, is destroyed in a moment, 
and the inheritance that He acquired with so much 
trouble is cast into the abyss of sin ! 

God had created light, the joy of the whole world, with 
two words ; with the same ease He had produced the stars, 
the plants, and animals. He gave life to the angels by a 
mere signification of His will and to man by a light breath 
of His nostrils. The greatest miracles He wrought, as it 
were, in passing, by one w r ord, one touch, one sign, \)y 
His mere will. By those three words He spoke to Lazarus 
in the sepulchre He might have raised with him all the 
dead to life. But, to restore grace to you, who so auda 
ciously despise it and cast it away, Almighty God was obliged 
to undertake a work that cost Him labor, an unspeakable 
labor of so many years ; He was obliged to give up His own 
life, and He did so with joy, because He knew grace was 
worthy of such a struggle. You yourself, however, do not 
tire of the ways of sin ; you often remain in sin for weeks 

1 Horn. 0. (ie Pasch. 2 Horn. 2. de symb. 

92 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

and months, and do not consider your conversion worth 
even a slight effort ! You think to redeem your sins by a 
hasty confession and soon after,, the day following, or, per 
haps, the same evening, you are as careless, gay, and merry 
as if nothing had happened, and perhaps even forget your 
good resolution ! Unhappy man ! Whither do your blind 
ness and the intoxicating habit of sin lead you ! Had 
you only, as the true servants of God do, considered atten 
tively the great price of your redemption, certainly you 
would, like them, approach the sacrament of reconciliation 
with bitter compunction and holy zeal ; you would shield 
yourself with a strong resolution of amendment and pre 
serve, with the greatest care, the grace recovered. You 
would henceforth ever be mindful of the words of the 
Apostle: " Knoiv you not that you are not your own ? 
For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear 
God in your body." 1 

5. Finally, grace is held in such high regard by God, that 
He would rather all other evils would descend upon man, 
and the whole world would be thrown into confusion and 
dissolution, than to permit the loss of grace, because this loss 
is the greatest of all evils. Do you see the immense wars 
and the terrible epidemics, that in a short time convert 
whole flourishing countries into deserts ? Do you perceive 
the many mishaps that deprive whole families of their 
wealth and honor ? Do you see the many evils that befall 
individuals, the countless persecutions that sinners wage 
against the just and in which the sinners often seem to 
triumph ? All these evils are permitted by God because 
men are thereby induced to seek their salvation and happi 
ness, not upon earth, but in grace. All these evils, for 
which many men blame Divine Providence, are permitted 
by God because they are as nothing compared to grace, 
which they are intended to convey to man and to preserve 
for him. If God gave His only begotten Son for man, 

1 I. Cor. vi. 20. 

How much God Himself Esteems Grace. 93 

why should He not rather destroy the whole creation than 
suffer mankind to be without His grace ? 

Why should not we, also, learn from this Divine lesson to 
esteem grace and its price ? May we lose honor and a good 
name, if only grace does not fail us ; may we lose our rich 
es, our parents, children, friends, our health and our life ; 
may we lose all, .may Heaven and earth pass away, if we 
only retain grace ! Christ justly teaches us to sell, for its 
sake, all that we possess, and give it to the poor, to sever 
all, even the dearest human ties, to despise and sacrifice 
our own life, for which His bright and beautiful example 
has shown us the way ; for indeed, he who has found this 
pearl, possesses wherewith to purchase God, and Heaven, 
and all other things. 

Of the Sublime and Incomprehensible 
Union with God to which Grace 
Introduces us. 


By Grace we Receive the Person of the Holy Spirit 
into our Soul. 


N the first book we have considered the nature of 
sanctifying grace and found it to be a most sub 
lime, supernatural quality of our nature infused 
by God in a most wonderful manner. We have seen that 
this quality makes us partakers of the Divine nature, and 
like unto this nature in its glorious prerogatives. But if 
our nature is so greatly elevated, and glorified, and made 
similar to the Divine nature, then we must also enter into 
an exceedingly intimate, mysterious, and living union with 
God, and this fact must evidently raise and increase the 
glory and preciousness of grace. This mysterious union 
with God, which is effected by grace, will form the subject 
of the second book. 

In the language of Holy Writ and of the holy Fathers, 
the Holy Spirit is generally designated as that Person 
with whom we are specially united by grace. For the Holy 
Spirit, as the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, stands, as 
it were, on the boundaries of the Blessed Trinity, and 

Reception of tke Holy Spirit. 95 

therefore the union of God with the creature, and of the 
creature with God,, is primarily and principally attributed 
to Him. Besides, He is the personal representative of the 
Divine love, from which He proceeds. But since the 
union of God with the creature is effected by His love, and 
on the other hand, our union with God in this life consists 
principally in our love for Him, it is evident why it is the 
Holy Spirit who represents in this respect the whole 
Blessed Trinity. 

2. Of the Holy Spirit now we say, that He Himself 
comes to us with grace, He gives us Himself in grace, and 
that He really and essentially, in an unspeakably intimate 
manner, dwells in us by grace. 

The Holy Spirit it is who, according to the words of the 
Apostle, 1 transforms us by His power into the image of 
God. In this He does not act like the sun, which only 
from a distance transforms the crystal globe into its image 
by its rays ; no, because as God He must be present 
everywhere lie acts, He illumines our soul, as a light 
that is placed within a crystal globe, or as a fire that is 
most closely united to and penetrates the body, which it 
makes bright and glowing. He Himself is the seal by which 
God impresses upon our soul the image of His Divine 
nature and holiness. As the seal indeed only imprints its 
form in the wax, but in order to do this must be brought 
into most intimate connection with it ; so the Holy Spirit, 
by impressing us with the seal of His image, enters into 
most intimate union with our soul. Thus the Holy Spirit 
cannot give us His grace without giving us Himself, as 
the Apostle says : 2 " The charily of God (which together 
with His grace is His highest gift) is poured forth into our 
hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to its." 

But as the Holy Ghost must Himself come to us, to 
bring us grace, so conversely grace brings us to the Holy 
Spirit, unites us with Him, and effects that by it and with 
it we possess the Holy Spirit Himself. "By sanctifying 

1 II. Cor. iii. 18. 2 Rom. v. 5. 

96 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace," says St. Thomas, 1 "the rational creature is thus 
perfected, that it may not only -use with liberty the created 
good, but that it may also enjoy the uncreated good j/and 
therefore, the invisible sending of the Holy Ghost takes 
place in the gift of sanctifying grace, yet the Divine Per 
son Himself is given us." 

By those words, St. Thomas will not maintain that we 
are qualified by grace only to enjoy the Holy Spirit by 
knowledge and love, in a manner, as we may know and love 
objects that do not belong to us, and that we do not pos 
sess in substance. He will rather say, that we possess and 
enjoy the Holy Spirit Himself in the same manner as ob 
jects that we not only see, but may also use ; that we 
not only love, but may also hold in close embrace. Or / 
rather, to express this mystery as far as possible in all/ 
its depth, by grace we are not only qualified to know, love, 
and enjoy God from afar, mediately by the beauty and 
goodness of His creatures, but to possess Him immediately 
in His substance. And this again not only means that the 
Divine substance is the object of our happy possession in 
any manner, but that it is truly and really present to us 
in a very special and intimate manner. For as theologians 
very generally teach with regard to the beatific vision of 
God in eternity, that it cannot be imagined without a true, 
real, and exceedingly intimate presence of God in our soul; 
so we must likewise hold that we cannot love God in this 
life with a supernatural love, unless the Divine object of 
our love be present in the most intimate manner in our 
soul. As the object of beatific vision, God 2 is truly the 
food of our soul and is as intimately united to it, as the 
natural food is to the body ; and in like manner the super 
natural love for God is at the same time a truly spiritual 
embrace of God, by which we receive Him, and hold Him 
in the innermost nature of our soul. 

In a twofold manner, then, and from a twofold cause, we 
are truly and really united to the Holy Spirit by grace : 

1 1. p. q. 33, art. 2. " Vide inf. c. G. 

Reception oj the Holy Spirit. 97 

first, as the Author of grace He comes to us with grace, and 
unites Himself with us, and again grace conducts us to 
Him and unites us with Him. The Holy Spirit approaches 
us in an unspeakably intimate manner, to communicate to 
us grace and love as a participation in the Divine nature 
and sanctity, as an outflow from the innermost bosom of 
Divinity ; and again, we approach wonderfully near to Him 
,.by the same grace, which, as a participation in the Divine 
nature, qualifies us for the immediate possession and enjoy 
ment of the Divine substance and the Divine Persons. 

3. The Holy Spirit, and the Divinity itself, is present 
also to natural things, and that not only by His activity, 
but because God acts by His substance, also substantially. 
But by grace His presence becomes incomparably more in 
timate and of a quite different nature. In the creatures He 
is present only as their Creator, without whom they cannot 
exist ; but in those possessed of grace lie is present as their 
sanctifier, who gives Himself to them and discloses to 
them the depths of His own being ; He is in them in a 
similar manner, us. God the Father is in His only-begotten 
Son. The Father is in the Son by the substantial and es 
sential communication of His nature, and so the Holy 
Spirit is in us by the gracious communication of the par 
ticipation in the Divine nature. As much, then, as the 
presence of the Eternal Father in His Son is different from 
His presence in the creatures, so different, too, is the pres 
ence of the Holy Spirit in the soul filled with grace, from 
His presence in mere creatures. 

Although the Holy Spirit is present to all creatures, 
though He dwells in the whole created nature as in an im 
mense temple, and the Holy Scripture says of Him : " The 
Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world; 39 yet in the 
soul adorned with grace He dwells with a special and pe 
culiar presence. This is so true, that a great theologian 
does not hesitate to say : If God should cease to be present 
in the other creatures, He would not cease to be in the souls 

1 Suarez, de Trinitate, lib. 1?, p. 5. 

98 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

that are in grace any more than He would thereby separate 
Himself from the humanity of Christ which is united with 
Him in one person. Therefore all creation can no longer 
be called a temple of God in comparison with the soul in 
grace; or if that is His temple, the soul is His altar; if that 
is His house this is His innermost chamber. Yea, we may 
more appropriately, and in accordance with Holy Writ, call 
the whole natural creation the footstool of God, upon 
which only the hem of His garment descends ; the soul in 
grace, however, we must call the throne of God, replete with 
all Divine glory. Shall I say even more ? In the soul, 
which is in the state of grace, the Holy Spirit is as intim 
ately present, as the soul itself is present in the heart, of 
which it is the principle of life and action. 

4. And this holy presence of the Spirit of God lasts as 
long as we preserve grace. The Holy Spirit does not come 
to us as a transient guest, who will remain with us only 
for a short time and then leave us. Our Saviour has 
prayed for us to the Father, that He might send us the Para 
clete, the Spirit of truth, to abide with us forever.* For 
ever this great guest will dwell with us and not leave us 
unless we ourselves expel Him from our hearts. 

wonderful greatness of grace that introduces such a 
great, sweet, and holy guest and unites Him so closely and 
inseparably with our soul ! If Zacheus called himself 
blessed because he could receive the Son of God in human 
form into his house for a short time, how much happier 
must we consider ourselves for being able to receive the 
Holy Spirit in His Divinity, not into our house, but into the 
innermost recesses of our heart ! Let others consider it 
a great honor to receive a temporal prince into their house ; 
we will gladly accept and account as nothing all shame 
and disgrace from our fellow-men, if we only keep the 
Holy Spirit in our heart. " If you be reproached for the 
name of Christ," says the Prince of the Apostles, 2 "you 
shall be blessed ; for that which is of the honor, (/lory, and 

1 John xiv- 1C. 2 I. Peter iv. 14. 

Reception of the Holy Spirit. 99 

power of God, and that loliich is His Spirit, resteth upon 
you." We should oppose a holy pride to all the abuse and 
insult the world may heap upon us, confident that no one 
can deprive our soul of the presence of this great guest. 

5. But this distinguished guest comes not only to honor 
us with His presence ; He brings us also a very rich treasure, 
and He Himself is this treasure ; or rather He Himself is not 
only a treasure, but the pledge of a still greater treasure. 
For as we now are to experience and enjoy the Holy Spirit 
in the sweetness of His love, so we shall taste and enjoy 
hereafter the Father and the Son in their whole Divine es 
sence and glory. " He is the pledge of our inheritance/ 
says the Apostle. ! As this inheritance is none other than 
God Himself, the pledge for it can be no other than God. 
For only a Divine pledge can secure us a Divine inheritance 
and give us a foretaste of the enjoyment of God. 

Oh, how little are we sensible of the preciousness of this 
treasure and of the living hope which this pledge gives us, 
because we make so little endeavor to experience it ! The 
Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Divine charity, can only be per 
ceived and enjoyed in the measure in which we receive His 
love. The more we love Him, the nearer He approaches us, 
the more deeply He is immersed in our soul, the more we 
experience His heavenly sweetness, the stronger grows our 
desire and confidence to possess and enjoy one day not 
only the pledge but the whole treasure of God. But if we 
do not nurse and cultivate this love in us, then we our 
selves are in fault if we do not experience the presence of 
the Holy Spirit in our soul, and we even deserve soon to 
lose it altogether. 

But no; far be this from you, Christian soul, for when 
you no longer esteem the presence of the Holy Ghost in 
your soul, you not only bring the greatest misfortune upon 
yourself, but also offer Him the most shameful insult. 
What outrageous wrong were it not, if a poor man, into 
whose home a temporal prince entered, would not receive 

1 Ephesians i. 14. 

ioo The Glories of Divine Grace. 

him, or after receiving him, neglect him altogether or even 
expel him from his house ! But what if you told the 
Spirit of God, not expressly, but plainly enough by your 
indifferent and contemptuous conduct : " Depart from 
me! " like those men, of whom Job says that they "looked 
upon the Almighty as if He could do nothing, whereas He 
had filled their houses with good things"? 1 

6. The Holy Ghost comes to you, to give you Himself 
and thus to render you happy; but at the same time He 
comes as your Lord and God, to take possession of you as 
of His temple. " Know you not" says the Apostle, 2 " that 
your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, 
whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" 
By receiving the Holy Ghost into your hearts, you are 
dedicated as His temple and belong to Him ; all your 
actions should tend to His honor and be worthy of Him. 
Before Him you shall serve no idol and thereby profane the 
temple of the true God. " For," says the same Apostle in 
another place, 3 "what agreement hath the temple of God 
with idols 9 You are the temple of the living God, as God 
saith : I will dwell in them, and walk among them, and 
I will he their God, and they shall be my people." 

What an abominable crime is it not to profane and dese 
crate the temple of God ! Learn this from the greatness 
of the punishment which the Apostle imposes upon it. 
" If any man violate the temple of God, him shall God de 
stroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are." * 
But by every mortal sin we not only violate this temple, 
but destroy and annihilate it ; for we destroy in us grace, 
by which this temple is built up. terrible and pernicious 
deed, by which we, like Samson, in a moment tear away 
the pillars of this grand structure to bury ourselves under 
its ruins, to rob God at one stroke of the object of His 
sweetest pleasure, and cast ourselves into a fathomless 
abyss ! The wicked king Antiochus had not dared to de 
stroy the temple of Jerusalem ; he had only profaned it 

1 Job xxii. 17, 18. 2 I. Cor. vi. 19. 3 II. Cor. vi. K;. 4 I. Cor. iiL 17. 

Reception of the Holy Spirit. 101 

and robbed it of its treasures. Nevertheless, lie soon ex 
perienced the hand of Divine vengeance ; worms grew out 
of his body, the rotted flesh fell in pieces from his limbs, 
and he died in unspeakable pain and the most terrible de 
spair. And you, wicked blasphemer, who violate the 
sanctuary of the Holy Ghost, destroy His temple, extinguish 
the stars that shine in your soul, you dare to hope for in 
dulgence ? Would that mortals could understand, says an 
eminent divine, 1 how great, how cruel and terrible an evil 
is one mortal sin, by which grace is destroyed in our soul ! 
It were better that the whole world were destroyed, than 
that one mortal sin were committed. 

7. As the soul lives in the body as in a house, so the 
Holy Ghost dwells not only in our soul ; with it and by 
it He also dwells in our body. Our body also is then a 
temple of the Holy Ghost, -blessed and sanctified by His 
presence, a holy vessel, holier than the ark of the covenant 
in the Old Law, because we hold not only the tables of the 
Law, but the Lawgiver Himself. Therefore the Apostle 
tells us : 2 " Tills is the will of God, your sanctification : 
that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of 
you should know how to possess His vessel in sanctification 
and honor ; not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles, who 
know not God. . . . Therefore he that despiseth these tilings-, 
despiseth not man, hut God, who also hath given His holy 
Spirit in us." The members of our body are members of 
Christ, by whom we have received the Holy Ghost, and 
they are therefore instruments of the Holy Ghost dedicated 
to His service and glory. "Know you not," says the same 
Apostle, "that your bodies are the members of Christ? 
Shall I, then, take the members of Christ, and make them 
the members of a harlot? God forbid." " Let not sin, 
therefore, reign in your mortal body, so as to obey the lusts 
thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments 
of iniquity unto sin, but present yourselves to God . . . 

1 Philip Gamachicus in 1, 2, q. 113, c. 13. 2 I. Thess. iv. 3-H. :( I. Cor. vi. 15. 

IO2 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

and your members as instruments of justice unto God." 

8. Still more grateful should we be to God for the gift of 
the Holy Ghost, and more respectful to the temple of God 
within us, when we compare the communication and send 
ing of the Holy Ghost with the communication and send 
ing of the Son of God. It was infinite evidence of 
God s love for us, already to give us, in the Incarnation, 
His only-begotten Son. Who are we, that the Son of God 
should,, on our account, descend from Heaven upon earth, 
adopt our nature, and walk and dwell among us ? The 
whole heavenly court was seized with deep wonder at hear 
ing of this condescension of its King. Yet the Son of God 
dwelt only a short time among us, only in one country and 
with one people. The Holy Spirit, however, equal to the 
Father and the Son in the Divinity, comes to each one of 
us, and not only comes to us, but enters our soul and makes 
it His throne and temple, and will always remain with us. 
And should we not know how to appreciate this great gift 
and this love ? 

In Holy Communion the God-man enters our heart with 
His holy body, it is true, only for a few moments, as long 
as the species remain entire. The Divinity of the Holy 
Ghost is certainly something greater and more sublime 
than even the body of Christ, and instead of soon depart 
ing from us, lie is united to us the more intimately, the 
more we hold Him and approach Him ; for the possession 
of any good, says St. Albertus Magnus, is so much more 
secure and lasting, as it is itself more noble and sublime. 
Why should we not extend to the Holy Ghost in our heart 
at least the same reverence and honor that we give the 
body of our Lord on the altar or in the tabernacle, or when 
receiving it in Holy Communion ? 

Your heart would shudder and tremble and be shocked 
at hearing that a fiendish hand had robbed the body 
of our Lord from the tabernacle and thrown it upon 
the street, or that an outrageous tongue had spit it out 

1 Rom. vi. 12, 13. 

Reception of the Holy Spirit. 103 

again after holy Communion ; and no punishment would 
appear to you great enough for such a crime. Well, then, 
sinner, out of your own mouth judge yourself ! Do not 
you commit a similar act, when you expel the Holy Ghost 
from the temple of your soul by a mortal sin and exclude 
Him from your heart ? 

Every heart that is not altogether depraved and void of 
feeling approaches the table of the Lord with a holy awe ; 
and even those who otherwise show little concern for their 
sins do not dare to receive the purest body of Christ into 
a heart defiled with sin. But do you believe that the Holy 
Ghost, who Himself formed that purest flesh in the chaste 
bosom of the Virgin, will more easily be reconciled to the 
filth and uncleanness of your carnal heart and live together 
with sin under the same shelter? Certainly not; even the 
angels in themselves are not pure enough in His eyes, and 
must first be cleansed and purified by His own Divine fire, 
that they may become worthy to receive Him. Is it not, 
then, reasonable that you at least strive after an angelic 
purity and live, as the Apostle teaches, not according to 
the flesh, but according to the spirit ? 

9. Finally, it is very significant, as St. Augustine ex 
plains, 1 that our Lord sent the Holy Ghost twice : the first 
time, when after His resurrection, whilst yet sojourning 
on earth, He breathed upon His Apostles and said : " Re 
ceive ye the Holy Ghost" and again after His ascension 
into Heaven on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. For 
the Holy Ghost is the Divine love and, when given, is to 
pour out this love into our hearts. But since we must 
love two objects with this love, God and our neighbor, 
our Saviour wished, as St. Augustine says, to give His 
spirit twice, that He might grant us the love of God and 
the love of our neighbor. The Holy Ghost inspires us 
with the love of God, when He gives us the power and in 
clination for this love, and gives us Himself as the pledge, 
that God will eternally love us, and with all that He 

1 August., (leTrinit., lib. 15, cap. 26. 

IO4 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

possesses, will be ours. The love of our neighbor He 
works in us, by making Him also His temple, by giving 
Himself also to our neighbor and dwelling in him, that we 
may henceforth love in our neighbor, not a man, but God 
Himself, who lives in him. Oh, how few remember that 
they must honor and love their fellow-man as a sacred and 
venerable temple of the Holy Ghost ! Would they other- 
wise treat Him so contemptuously, so easily despise Him, 
and so inconsiderately offend Him ? Would they not 
rather consider themselves happy in being allowed to ap 
proach this sanctuary of the Holy Ghost and to serve it ? 
Were we as enlightened as the Saints, we should kneel down 
before the sick and helpless, and with the greatest rever 
ence render them the meanest services, knowing well that 
about the temple of God even the lowest service is infinite 
ly great and holy. Holy Writ says of God Himself, that 
He " disposest of us with great favor," as of a precious 
vessel, certainly from no other reason but because He be 
holds His own spirit within us. 

The great Abbot Alcuin adds to this passage of St. Au 
gustine, that our Lord, while yet on earth, first sent the 
Holy Ghost, that we may love our neighbor and thus pre 
pare ourselves to receive the Holy Ghost from our Lord in 
Heaven, that we may embrace God Himself with heavenly 
love. " For," says St. John, 2 " lie that loveth not his brother, 
whom he seeth, hoiv can he love God, whom he seeth not?" 
Let us, then, in the Holy Ghost love the temple of God in 
our neighbor, that we may ourselves be made worthy to be 
true temples of God and forever to be filled with His Di 
vine glory ! 

1 Wis. xii. 18. 3 I. John iv. 20. 


The Whole Blessed Trinity is Introduced into our 
Soul by Grace. 


| HE subject proposed here may be easily proven 
from what has already been stated ; for " in 
this," says the disciple and teacher of love, "we 
know that we abide in God, and He in us ; because He 
hath given us of His Spirit." The Holy Ghost is Him 
self God, and is one God with the Father and the Son : all 
three Persons are inseparably united with each other, on 
account of the unity of their essence, and hence, where one 
is present the two others must also be present. Therefore 
our Lord Himself says very distinctly : a " If any one love Me 
lie will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and 
we will come to him, and will make our abode ivith him." To 
this mystery, Origen applies that blessed "fellowship ivith 
the Father and His Son Jesus Christ," of which St. John 
writes to the faithful, 3 " that they may rejoice, and their 
joy may be full." If, lastly, St. Augustine explains, in 
what sense we may, in the Lord^s prayer, address to God 
the Father the words, "who art in Heaven," though He 
is present everywhere, He teaches that the word Heaven 
signifies the just on earth, and the angels above, in whom, 
as in a magnificent royal palace, God the Father, the in 
separable companion of grace, dwells with the Son and the 
Holy Ghost. God always directly follows His grace, and 
whoever receives it, receives into his soul the Triune God, 
with incomparably greater happiness than Abraham once re 
ceived Him, before his tent, under the guise of the three men. 

1 I. John iv- 13. 2 John xiv. Ms 3 I. John i. 3-4. 

io6 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

thrice wonderful power of graces, which draws down 
the whole Blessed Trinity from Heaven into our soul, or 
rather converts this into a Heaven ! " How little appears 
to me/ St. Chrysostom exclaims, "the power which Josue 
possessed over the greatest heavenly bodies, the sun and 
the moon, so that he could command them to stand still or 
to resume their motion ! For this is an incomparably 
greater honor, that we may draw down the Lord of Heaven 
Himself upon earth." holy grace, architectress of a 
neAv Heaven, a new temple, a new palace and throne for 
the King of Heaven and earth, who would not joyfully 
open to you the door of his heart, that you may prepare 
in it a worthy dwelling-place for the Triune God ! And 
who should dare to drive Thee, great God, from this 
Thy newly elected resting-place ? He were certainly more 
impious than Herod, who drove the Infant Jesus from the 
stable at Bethlehem ; for in this stable God had a dwelling 
unworthy of Him ; but by grace our soul is so splendidly 
adorned, that God dwells in it with as much pleasure as 
He does in Heaven. Who then will dare to storm and seize 
upon this Heaven, this throne of God ? And if any one is 
so audacious, ought the ministers and servants of God to 
remain silent ? Ought not all creation to avenge the 
affront offered its Creator ? Ought not Heaven to destroy 
this insolent wretch by its lightnings and the earth open 
to devour him ? 

2. This outrage is the more detestable, the more honor 
able and condescending is the coming of the Blessed Trin 
ity into the heart of man. " Wliat is a man/ we must 
exclaim with holy Job/ " that Thou sliouldst magnify Mm ? 
or why dost Thou set Thy heart upon him, God 9 " 
since Thou dost not come to us as to servants, to accept 
the faithful services of a free and happy servitude from 
us, which were no small honor for us, but Thou comest 
to us, to live with us in the most intimate and familiar 

Job vii. 17. 

Introduction of the Blessed Trinity. 107 

Granted that it was a great honor for Joseph of Egypt, 
for Daniel and Mardochai to hold positions so near to 
temporal rulers, such an honor is not even a shadow of 
that honor accorded to us, when the great Almighty God 
approaches us so near by grace, and unites Himself so in 
timately to us, as no creature is able to do. 

For this fellowship is so intimate, according to the lan 
guage of the pious and learned Carthusian monk Diony- 
sius, that we share, in common with God, intercourse, place 
of abode, mysteries, occupations, sentiments, desires, and 
interests. Who but the true Christian, united with His 
God, can speak those sublime words : "It is good for me 
to stick close to my God, my soul hath stood close to Thee " ? 1 
He continually communes with God, and holds inter 
course with Him in meditation ; he lends an attentive ear 
to the sweet whisper of His voice ; he receives with eager 
desire all His holy inspirations and impulses ; to be separ 
ated from God appears to him harder than death ; and if 
it occasionally happens that he does not notice the loving 
expressions of an habitual familiarity, he sighs in sad fear, 
lest he may have caused this withdrawal of God by his own 
fault. But who could describe how loving the intercourse 
is on the part of God, how God also reveals His innermost 
nature, and discloses His heart to him, how he makes 
known to such a soul His holy mysteries, lets it experience 
His holy presence, and infuses into it a peace that tran 
scends all understanding ? God s own word, " My delight is 
to be with the children of men/ 2 tells us enough. Well, 
then, might this holy man Dionysius exclaim: " How 
great is the dignity of a rational creature, which partici 
pates in the Divine nature and obtains and holds fellow 
ship with its Creator ! But, Man, when he ivas in hon 
or, did not understand: he hath been compared to sense 
less beasts, and made like to them,. 3 By spiritual and carnal 
sins, many associate themselves Avith the devils and the 
beasts and are made like to them." 

Ps. Ixxii. 28. 2 Prov. viii. 31. 3 Ps. xlviii. 21. 

loS 7^/ic Glories of Divine Grace. 

3. That you,, my dear Christian, may not so easily cast 
aside the high position to which grace has raised you by 
similitude with God and fellowship with Him, consider 
the following : 

The relics of holy bodies are deservedly the objects of our 
greatest veneration ; every one considers himself happy to 
be able to approach them, to see and touch them, and 
countless numbers often come from a great distance to pay 
their tribute of respect and love to these holy relics. But 
are not, in reality, we far more worthy of veneration, are 
not we a living shrine of the Divinity, in which is inclosed, 
not the dead ashes of saints, but all three Persons of the 
thrice-holy God ? Oh, if you could behold yourself, 
Christian soul, how would you esteem and honor yourself ! 
Oh, if you could behold yourself, holy soul, beloved and in 
habited by God, honored and admired by the angels ! Oh, 
if you could behold yourself, lovely paradise of your Creator, 
glorious dwelling of the Blessed Trinity, beautiful bridal- 
chamber of the heavenly King ! Oh, if you could behold 
yourself, golden ark of the covenant, not of the Old but of 
the New Law, altar of the Divine Majesty, treasury of the 
gifts of the Holy Ghost, temple of the living God ! Oh, if 
you could behold yourself, sublime throne of the Divinity, 
wide Heaven, in which shine resplendently not corporeal 
stars, but the Divine Persons themselves ! Oh, if you could 
behold yourself, daughter of God the Father, sister of God 
the Son, spouse of the Holy Ghost, associate and companion 
of the whole Blessed Trinity ! Oh, if you could behold 
yourself, how would you esteem yourself, not on account 
of what you possess of your own self, but on account of 
the dignity you receive from grace ! How much would 
you honor yourself and grace, and guard against losing 

We are rightly delighted at the companionship of St. 
Frances of Rome, who always beheld an angel companion 
at her side. But how surprised we should be to see the 
Archangels and Thrones, yea, all blessed spirits, surround- 

Introduction of the Blessed Trinity. 109 

ing man and standing at his side ! But what is this, or 
rather, how insignificant is all this, compared to the fellowship 
of God and all three Divine Persons, who are united to 
every soul that is in the state of grace ! If, now, it is 
scarcely imaginable that the soul, which knew itself sur 
rounded by angels, would dare to drive them away or 
abandon them by an improper act in order to associate with 
the devils and reprobates ; how terrible and incredible must 
it appear, that a soul should do this towards Almighty 
God ! Who could believe that this occurs frequently, aye, 
that nothing occurs more frequently and universally ? Oh, 
let us entertain a greater esteem for that high dignity 
which we may confidently believe to have obtained by just 
ification in the sacraments of baptism and penance, and 
that Divine Majesty which dwells in us ! Let our ways be 
worthy of God, pleasing to Him in all things ; let us despise 
the things that are of earth, occupy ourselves only with 
Him and with the things that are of Heaven. And as the 
Divine Persons descend so low in their goodness towards 
us, let us hasten to meet them and endeavor to unite our 
selves as closely as possible with them. " The Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost come to us," says St. Augustine, 1 "if we 
go to them ; they come and assist us, we go by obedience 
to them ; they come and fill our heart, we go receiving, 
that our vision of them may not be external, but from 
within, and their residence in us be not transient, but 

1 Tract. 76, in Joan. 


By Grace the Holy Ghost Communicates to us His 
own Life. 


|F the whole Blessed Trinity is intimately united to 
our soul by grace, and if especially the Holy 
Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is 
present within us, then this presence cannot be without 
fruit. God is a living God, and the Holy Spirit is the 
Spirit or the breath of Divine life. He must then also 
dwell in our soul as the breath of Divine life, as it were, 
the soul of our soul, and inspire it with a new life, with 
His own Divine life. 

Our soul certainly has its own natural life ; not only that 
life which it gives to the body, enabling it to move and 
perceive by the senses similarly to the animals, but it has 
besides a truly spiritual life in its reason and free will, by 
which it can know and love spiritual things, truth, beauty, 
and goodness ; otherwise the soul were not in its nature an 
image of the living God. But this life is scarcely a shadow 
of the Divine life ; it is so little, so weak, so limited, that 
the soul endowed with it alone is rather to be called dead 
than alive when compared to God. 

It is true that even the dead statue of a prince is precious 
and worthy of honor, but if this statue could be animated 
by the spirit of the prince himself, then we should respect and 
honor it as we do the prince himself. Well, then, God has 
breathed His own Spirit into our soul, His image, lie has ani 
mated it with the breath of His own life, and this breath of 
Divine life is grace. By grace the Holy Spirit unites Himself 
with us: by it He fructifies the soil of our soul with the germ 

Communication of the Divine Life. \ 1 1 

of a higher, heavenly life, in a far higher manner than He 
once, at the time of creation, moving over the waters, fruc 
tified the void and dead earth with the life-germs of plants, 
animals, and men. By it He descends into our soul in a 
similar manner, as He once descended into the bosom of 
the Virgin, to let the rod of Jesse, the Son of God, sprout 
forth therein into a heavenly blossom. 

One of the most beautiful and sublime miracles which we 
read of in Holy Scripture, is that of the prophet Eliseus 
raising to life again the dead son of the Sunamitic woman, 
who had so hospitably entertained him. " The prophet," 
saysHoly Writ, 1 " lay upon the child : and lie put liis mouth 
upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands 
upon Ms hands; and he bowed himself upon him ; and the 
child s flesh greiv warm. " Yet incom parably greater and more 
glorious is the miracle which is wrought in our soul at the 
infusion of grace, since here not one man is raised to a human 
life by another man, but our soul is raised to Divine life by 
God. With unspeakable love and tenderness God bows 
down on our soul; He places his own mouth upon its mouth, 
to breathe into it the breath of His life and the spirit of His 
love; He unites His eyes to the eyes of our soul, i. e., with 
our intellect, His faculty of understanding with ours ; He 
joins His hands to ours, His Divine power with the natural 
power of our soul ; and so it is born to a new life by which 
it lives in God and God in it. 

For after God has given our soul His life, He cannot de 
part from it, as Eliseus departed from the boy after he 
had revived him ; our soul cannot live separated from God, 
as the seed lives separated from the tree that has fructified 
it. No, God remains in our soul as the soul remains in the 
body which it animates. He inspires His Spirit into the 
soul to remain there and produce the same effects that 
the soul produces in the body, to move and direct it, and 
always to kindle and sustain in it the light of Divine un 
derstanding, and the heat of Divine love. He inoculates, 

i IV, Kings iv. 34, 

1 1 2 Tke Glories of Divine Grace. 

as it were, the spirit of His life upon the weak sprout of 
our soul, to convert its natural life into a Divine life, to 
elevate and glorify it into a heavenly life, that henceforth 
the soul, nourished with Divine light, may shoot forth 
Divine and heavenly blossoms, and, filled with Divine ardor, 
may produce fruits of Divine love, that never pass away. 

This new, ennobled tree is, then, always irrigated with 
that living water, which springs up, as our Lord told the 
Samaritan woman, into everlasting life that gushes forth 
from the bosom of the living God and is nothing else than 
this Holy Ghost Himself. Therefore the Apostle says: 2 
"The wages of sin is death; tlte grace of God, however," 
which is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, 
who is given to us, "is everlasting life." 

2. See, now, my dear Christian, whether you have hither 
to at all comprehended the value of this Divine and heav 
enly life, or rather, whether you will ever be able ade 
quately to comprehend it. 

Life in itself is something so precious, that every 
living being, be it ever so humble, is worth far more than 
all, even the greatest and most beautiful things, which are 
without life. St. Augustine concluded from this that a 
worm or a small insect is preferable to the material heav 
en, the stars, and even to the sun, though it be the source 
of all light, and some learned philosophers have called life 
the culmination and the crown of visible nature. The 
reason is, perhaps, because lifeless beings cannot utilize 
their own being and their qualities for their own benefit, 
as the living beings may do. The plant, for instance, 
may command all that matter of which it consists and the 
matter that it assimilates, may utilize it for its own pur 
pose (though it does this without perception and knowl 
edge), and thus may ever more develop its beauty and pro 
duce its particular blossoms and fruit. Animals, besides, 
perceive what they are and have, and may therefore not 
only utilize their gifts, but to some extent enjoy them. But 

1 John iv. 14, - Rom. vj. 23, 

Communication of the Divine Life. 113 

they cannot make use of and enjoy these gifts in the same 
manner as man, a rational being who knows himself and 
his destiny, who selects the means for the attainment of 
this end, strives after them, and who, moreover, may 
acquire and enjoy not only corporal, but also spiritual 

The natural life of the soul is therefore exceeding 
ly precious, incomparably more precious than the life 
of all other things on earth. But, as has already been 
said, the sphere of this activity is still very limited, as the 
soul by its natural^ powers can directly comprehend, ac 
quire, and enjoy only natural things. Grace, however, 
infinitely amplifies and elevates this sphere ; it qualifies the 
soul to know God immediately in His glory and to lovingly 
sink itself into the depths of His infinite goodness, to re 
ceive within itself the highest good and enjoy it as God 
Himself enjoys it. And so grace gives the soul a life 
infinitely more wealthy and sublime than all natural life, 
a Divine life full of unspeakable power and happiness, 
beyond comparison superior to all natural life. 

The following illustration may, perhaps, still better show 
how sublime and precious this life is. The life of any 
being is manifested principally in the motion developed 
in it. Thus we may call the water swift, because it 
does not stand still, but flows and bubbles in a lively 
manner. The plants live, because they raise themselves 
from the root and steadily develop, and compared with 
them, even the flowing water is dead. But plants have no 
local motion, as the animal, that may leave its place and 
let its eye roam in immeasurable distance. Man moves 
infinitely farther, because with his reason he penetrates 
into the nature of things; besides the realm of the visible 
he may traverse the world of the possible, yea, pursue in his 
investigations not only corporal but also spiritual things, 
and from his lowliness he raises his eyes in wondrous 
anticipation to the heights of the Almighty s throne. But 
as long as the Spirit of God (Joes not come to us with His 

1 1 4 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace, our soul lies on the ground as a stone, which cannot, 
like the plant, move with living power and raise itself to 
Heaven to receive and enjoy the light of the sun. As a 
worm it clings to the earth, i. e., to creatures, to the 
footsteps of God s glory ; but it may not raise itself in 
daring flight, on the pinions of the eagle, to God, to behold 
Him and unite itself with Him. As, then, the stone is dead 
in comparison to the plant, as the worm may be said to be 
dead when compared to the eagle, so our soul must be 
considered dead, until it is pervaded by the mighty breath 
of the Spirit of God and is animated with His own life. 

If, then, even the natural life of creatures is so valu 
able, how precious must not this Divine life be ! And if 
the body loves so well the soul that animates it, how much 
more should our soul aspire after the Holy Ghost, who 
fills it with Divine life ! 

Oh, that we esteemed this heavenly life of the soul at 
least as much as the short, limited, and miserable life of the 
body, which is, in reality, nothing but a lingering death, 
which daily and hourly draws nearer its dissolution and in 
its beginning already contains the germ of death ! What 
do we leave undone for the preservation of this life ? 
What sacrifice is too great for us, if it will ward off death, 
the last and greatest of all evils ? And yet we know that 
when its hour has come we cannot arrest it. 

Our soul, however, by the grace of the Holy Ghost con 
tains the germ of an eternal life, which, instead of daily 
decaying, is renovated from day to day. tf Though our 
outward man is corrupted" says the Apostle, 1 " the inward 
man is renewed daij by day" Besides, the grace of the 
Holy Ghost is everlasting life, not only for the soul, but 
also for the body ; for, says the Apostle in another place, 2 
" if the Spirit of God, that raised up Jesus from the dead, 
dwell in you, He that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead 
shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of His Spirit 
I hot dwelleth in you." 

1 II. Cor. iv. 16. 2 Romans viii. 11. 

Communication of the Divine Life. 1 15 

Why should we not, then, love the life of grace, at least 
as much and more than the life of the flesh ? Just then, 
if we love this carnal life, " if we live according to the flesh, 
the Apostle tells us, 1 " we shall die ; " die in the flesh and 
in the soul ; but if we in the Holy Ghost chastise and 
mortify our flesh, we shall live forever, both in soul and 

How true and evident is not the teaching of the Divine 
Saviour : 2 " He that loveth his life, shall lose it, and he that 
hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal." 
But how few there are who will understand these words, 
how few estimate by this teaching the true value of 
the life of soul and body ! How few are mindful of those 
gravely important words : " WJiat doth it profit a man if 
he gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? " foolish 
and miserable mortal man, of what profit to you are all 
the pleasures and enjoyments of this earth, your indolent 
and comfortable and sumptuous life, spent only in the 
nursing and gratification of the flesh ? All that is loss, is 
poison, is death and destruction ! If you were half so 
much concerned about your soul, and made only a little 
expense in its favor, it would bring you eternal life and 
interminable happiness, and would be for you an incalcu 
lable gain. 

3. But as this heavenly life of the soul is infinitely 
better and more precious than the temporal life of the 
body and even the natural life of the soul, so the loss of 
this heavenly life is the most fearful and horrible death. 
If in any case the proverb is verified here : " The noblest 
thing, when corrupted, is the worst." 5 Our senses find 
nothing more loathsome, repugnant, and detestable, than a 
human body that has quit this life. As this body, when 
still alive, was far more beautiful and excellent than all 
lifeless things, so it is now in death far more offensive and 
corrupt. It is nothing but a decomposing mass, whose 
repulsive sight and sickening smell keep you at a distance. 

1 Romans viii. 13. 2 John xii. 25. 3 Corruptio optiini pessisma. 

ii6 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Must not the death of the supernatural life of your soul, 
which you bring upon yourself by most cruel suicide, 
be far worse ? What virulent, diabolical malice must have 
infected your soul, that you can dare to commit such a mur 
der, and what most terrible reprobation do you incur, when 
you expel the Spirit of God from your soul ! Indeed, if 
you could behold your soul in this terrible condition, as 
God and your guardian angel and many Saints, by permis 
sion of God, beheld it, you would be shocked and horrified 
at your own self, and would not rest until you had re 
moved this abomination from your soul. 

St. Anthony J relates of a monk, who, coming in his 
journey upon a corpse, immediately covered his nose with 
his cloak, whilst the angel, who accompanied him in human 
form, did not even appear to notice the great stench. 
But when soon after both met a very elegantly dressed 
youth, the angel held his hand to his face, and explained 
to the surprised monk that the angels are not disturbed by 
the evil smell of a corpse, but that the whole heavenly 
court is driven away by the great and intolerably offensive 
odor of a soul in mortal sin. 

A similar occurrence is recorded of St. Catherine of 
Siena. When she was at Siena, many miles away from 
Eome, she was yet annoyed by the evil odor of those who in 
Rome were defiled by mortal sin, and when upon one occa 
sion a gaudily dressed woman came to converse with her, 
she could not be brought to answer a syllable and afterwards 
stated, in answer to the question of her confessor, that on 
account of the pestilential smell which the sinful soul of 
that woman emitted, she could scarcely keep herself erect, 
much less speak with her. " As smoke drives away the 
bees and a carcass the doves, " says St. Basil, 2 "so sin drives 
away from us the angels," and with them all pure souls. 

Only they, who bear the corpse within themselves, gen 
erally do not perceive its deformity and evil odor; but this 
is only another sign of their death, as loss of life is accom- 

i 4. p. tit. 14. c. 6. 1. a Or. 3. de pecc. 

Communication of the Divine Life. 117 

panied with loss of sensation. Oh, may Divine mercy 
give these dead beings at least a sense of their terrible con 
dition; may they learn this condition at least from the 
nausea which it creates in the living ! As the life of one 
soul is infinitely more precious than the lives of all bodies, 
so the corpse of a soul in mortal sin is far more loathsome 
than those of all bodies of mankind. But if the corpses of 
all the dead of all times, with all their wounds and sores, 
mutilated, half burnt, partly devoured by birds of prey, 
torn and decayed, were before you in one heap, could 
you bear this horrible sight and not immediately faint from 
the pestilential odor ? With one such corpse before yon, 
you would be unable, from disgust, to eat or drink. And 
yet you can suffer the corpse of your soul not only near 
you, but can carry it about with you in your innermost 
heart and withal eat, drink, and sleep in greatest peace and 
cheerfulness! Oh, this insensibility is more terrible than 
death itself ! For it deprives you of the desire for life, it 
leaves you indisposed for receiving life again, and surren 
ders you, whilst otherwise you might yet be saved, to a 
more terrible eternal death ! 

Grace makes us Children of God, First by Adoption. 


]E now come to speak of an attribute of grace, which 
comprises, so to speak, all the previously described 
glories and still more clearly reveals its nature and 

By making us participants in the Divine nature, by in 
ducing the Spirit of God to dwell in us, and by imparting 
to us a Divine life, grace makes us true children of God and 
.makes God our true Father. <( Whosoever are led by the 
Spirit of God, they are the sons of God," says St. Paul. 1 
The same Apostle further teaches: "Because you are 
sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, 
crying: Abba, Father* For the Spirit Himself giveth testi 
mony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if 
sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with 
Christ." 3 And again : " God hath predestinated us unto the 
adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto Himself, ac 
cording to the purpose of His will. Unto the praise of the 
glory of His grace, in which He hath graced us in His be 
loved Son." 4 Nothing, then, so clearly exhibits the glory of 
grace, as the fact that it makes us children of God, 
and on the other hand, nothing makes us more admire the 
love of God, than His adopting us as His children. 
" Behold," says the Apostle of love, 6 " what manner of 
charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be 
called and should be the sons of God." 

In the Lord s prayer, taught us by the Son of God Him- 

1 Romans viii. 14. 2 Gal. iv. 6. 3 Romans viii. 1C, 17. 4 Epues. i. 5-6. 
6 I. John iii. 1. 

Grace makes us Children of God. 1 19 

self, we say every day: " Our Father, who art in Heaven." 
By here calling God our Father, we designate ourselves as 
His children. But whether habit has made us indifferent 
to the meaning of those words, or whether we have never 
understood them with lively and enlightened faith, we 
remain cold and forget how high above all creatures we 
should soar up into the bosom of Almighty God. Let us 
imagine, therefore, that we are to learn to pray and under 
stand this Lord s prayer for the first time to-day, and then 
let us hear the words in which one of the greatest Doctors 
of the Church, St. Peter Chrysologus, proposes and ex 
plains the " Our Father" to his catechumens: 

" What I shall now speak with fear and trembling, what 
you are to hear with dread and fear, and are to speak with 
terror and awe, is the subject of wondering amazement 
for the angels, of reverence and fear for the Virtues, is in 
comprehensible to the highest Heaven, invisible to the sun, 
unbearable by the earth, unattainable by any creature. Of 
what avail is here the feeling of a mortal ? Of what avail 
the imbecile mind of man, or the narrow limit of human 
sense ? Of what avail the transient breath of the human 
voice, and the momentary sound of the human language : 
When St. Paul saw what is invisible to human eyes, and 
explained what is inexplicable in human language, he said: 1 
Eye liatli not seen, nor ear heard, neither liatli it entered 
into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for 
them that love Him. Our mortal condition, our earthly 
structure, our material substance, our nature, uncertain of 
life or death, worn out by labor, wasted away by suffering, 
subject to decay and dust, is incapable of comprehending, 
insufficient to estimate, not audacious enough to repel, 
and yet hesitates to believe that which I am to-day 
obliged to confess. Human frailty knows not how it may 
be able to merit so large a bounty of Divine gifts, such 
greatness of promises, such a liberality of favors. This, I 
believe, was the object of prevision of the prophet Habacuc, 

1 I. Cor. 11. 9. 

I2O The Glories of Divine Grace. 

when, stricken with so great fear, he said : Lord, I have 
heard Thy word and was afraid/ He was afraid on ac 
count of what he had heard, not because this great prophet 
then heard his Lord, but because he, the servant, found 
the Lord had become his Father. I have considered Thy 
works and have trembled. Not because he contemplated the 
world, so harmonious with all its different elements, but be 
cause he beheld the work of Divine tenderness in Himself, 
therefore he was seized with wondering admiration and 
fear. He was astounded at being adopted as a son, when 
he had lost the confidence of the servant. Hear what the 
prophet further says: I was on my guard, and my in 
terior shuddered at the voice of the prayer of my lips. 
Having experienced the munificence of the Divine gift, he 
was on his guard, lest he again, like Adam in paradise, 
should become an enemy of God and a robber. He guards 
himself with more vigilance and solicitude, who learnt after 
the loss of so great a gift that he held the heavenly treasure 
in frail vessels. And my interior shuddered at the 
voice of my lips. If the sentiment of the heart had 
prompted the tongue to speak the word, why does it trem 
ble at its own wish and desire, at the subject of its prayer? 
Because it Jiad not spoken by its own impulse, but by the 
inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Hear the Apostle Paul 
say : God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your 
hearts, crying: Abba, Father! When the prophet heard 
this voice of the Holy Ghost in his heart, he was sur 
prised to have merited so great a favor, and his whole in 
terior shuddered. With good reason therefore he adds: 
f And trembling seized my limbs and beneath me my power 
was shaken. Why beneath me ? Because one and 
the same man, who is elevated so high by grace, was 
prostrated so low by nature, and because the earthly force 
could not sustain the Divine power. Mount Sinai shook 
and smoked when God descended to give the law. 
What would weak human flesh do, when God de- 

1 The following texts of Holy Writ are taken from the Septuagint version. 

Grace makes us Children of God. 1 2 1 

scends into flesh, to confer grace upon this flesh ? He 
comes as Father, because man could not sustain God, the 
servant could not sustain the lord. And because He is 
faithful in the words that He has spoken : Open thy mouth 
and I shall fill it, 1 then open your mouths that He Himself 
may fill it with this prayer, and cry : Our Father, who art 
in Heaven. 7 He Himself teaches us to pray thus, He Him 
self encourages, commands us. Let us, then, dear brethren, 
attend to the grace that calls us, the love that draws us, 
the tenderness that invites us ; let God be cherished by 
our hearts as our Father, let Him be thus confessed 
by our soul, proclaimed by our tongue ; let all that is 
within us correspond to grace and not to fear ; for He 
who was converted from our Judge to our Father would be 
loved and not feared." 8 

See, dear Christian, what the saints thought of the dig 
nity of the children of God, and how much they admired 
it ! It would almost appear to you that they had spoken 
too extravagantly ; but if you will consider, with me, all 
that holy faith teaches upon this subject, you will readily 
concede that they could scarcely comprehend and teach 
the whole truth. 

2. By nature we men are not, strictly speaking, child 
ren of God, but only His servants and bondsmen, the 
least and humblest of all. We stand far beneath the an 
gels, and even these are by nature only servants of God. 
We, like they, are only creatures of God and the work of 
His hands ; we, and all we possess, are subject to Him ; we 
are obliged, as subjects of His great empire, to serve and 
glorify Him, our highest King and Lord. If we remained 
in this natural condition, God would not properly be our 
Father. But since, even in this case, He had still given us 
existence, since he would overwhelm us with natural 
blessings, would watch over us and preserve us with great 
care, and would not treat us as a tyrant, but as a good and 

1 Ps, Ixxx. 11. 2 Peter Chrysologus, Homil, 08, 

122 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

mild Lord, He would even so be our Father more properly 
than our temporal father. 

Yet we do not stand in such near relation to God as a 
child does to its father. With all our likeness to Him on 
the part of our rational soul, which is His image,, we are 
not, in a strict sense, God s kindred, because we are only 
created by His will and not begotten by Him, and hence 
have not received His own Divine nature. Only the 
Eternal Word, which, uncreated itself, in union with 
the Father has created us and all other beings, is in a 
strict sense by nature itself the Son of God. This 
Son alone is truly one with the Father and receives from 
Him the same Divine nature which He, the Father, Him 
self possesses. He alone is truly begotten by the Father 
in a spiritual manner, since He, the image of His essence, 
the impress of His substance, the pure reflex of His splen 
dor, the expression and word of His intelligence, proceeds 
from Him as Light of Light, God of God, Himself God 
and one God with the Father. 

What has this Son in common with the works of God, 
with those poor creatures that were created through Him ? 
As near as He is to the Father, resting in His bosom, so 
far are they outside and distant from God. As much as 
He is like to the Father and bears His image in Himself, so 
much are they unlike God and exhibit in themselves only 
a dim and faint outline of His image. As completely as 
He is the Heir of the Father, and receives in inheritance 
His whole wealth, all the treasures of omnipotence, wisdom, 
and science, so completely must the creature be excluded 
from this inheritance, as the servant cannot claim the 
same rights with the son of the house. In the same meas 
ure as He, in the bosom of the Father, beholds Him 
face to face, is one with Him in most intimate, unspeak 
able love, and is united to Him by the Holy Ghost as by 
the bond of an unspeakably loving embrace, so must 
the creature remain at a respectful distance. The 
creature may and must love its Creator, as the good servant 

Grace makes us Children of God. 123 

loves his master ; but it may never hope or desire to 
receive the kiss from the mouth of the Father, or to assume 
the liberties of a child in embracing Him. 

How can this creature,, then, presume to call its 
Creator the King of Heaven and earth, to call Him Father 
with that confidence, with that fervor and tenderness, 
which the Apostle requires ? How can mortal man pre 
sume to say Father to the King of immortality, dwelling 
in inaccessible light ? How can he greet as Father Him 
who is the most pure and perfect Spirit ? How can the 
son of earth, with childlike confidence and courage, ap 
proach Him as his Father, before whom the Seraphim pros 
trate themselves in deepest reverence and veil their face ? 
Would it not, finally, sacrilegiously encroach upon the 
rights and privileges of the only-begotten Son of God, who 
alone is from all eternity in unspeakable manner begotten by 
the Father, to make His equal a creature, produced out of 
nothing by Him, preserved from being again annihilated 
only by the power of His will, and to make this creature 
participate by nature in the Divine bosom, in the love and 
inheritance of the Eternal Father, to make it one with the 
Father, as He is one with the Father ? 

3. Do not fear, my dear Christian ; what is impossible 
with men is possible with God ; what we cannot claim as 
a right, is gratuitously granted by the infinite liberality of 
God. Though we are not the children of God by nature, 
we shall be made such by grace, and that so truly and 
really, that as adopted children we are associated with 
Him who is the Son of God by nature, and what He is by 
nature we are by grace. 

This is similar to what often happens among men. A 
father may, beside his real son, or if without a son, 
adopt the son of another as his child, and extend 
to this adopted child the same love, the same dignity, and 
the same rights that would belong to his own son. God the 
Father, then, extends the same love, which He bears the 
only-begotten Son of His bosom, also to us poor creatures, 

124 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

without any claim thereto on our part. He loves us, as Holy 
Writ says, in His only-begotten Son with the same love 
with which He embraces this Son. He associates us with 
Him as with a brother, confers upon us His dignity and 
the right to share in His inheritance. And the Son of 
God, far from desiring to be the sole occupant of the 
Divine bosom, and to treat us merely as His servants, has 
Himself undertaken the great work to acquire for us by 
His own blood this life of the children of God, and was 
made flesh, in order to "give to as many as received Him, 
the power to be made the sons of God." J He was made our 
Brother in the flesh, to make us His brethren in His Divine 
glory. He considers it His honor, not to be the only- 
begotten, but " the first-born amongst many brethren." * 
Therefore, too, He is the first who calls His Father our 
Father also : " I ascend to my Father, and to your Fath 
er. " 3 He teaches us to pray : Our Father who art in 
Heaven ; He declares that He has come into this world to 
give us the life His Father has given Him ; He prays the 
Father for us, that we may he one in Him as He is one in 
Him. 4 He wills, also, that we should be His co-heirs in that 
glory which He Himself asked at the Last Supper for His 
humanity, that Divine glory which He had with the 
Father before the beginning of the world, when He pro 
ceeded before the day-star from His mouth in the splendor 
of sanctity as His Word and as the image of His infinite 
glory and happiness. 

4. Consider now, Christian soul, how unspeakably great 
is the love and grace of your Creator, by which He would not 
be Lord, but Father, and adopted you as His child, and as 
the brother of His only-begotten Son ! If a very rich and 
powerful sovereign, says St. Anselm, 5 would cause one of the 
least of His subjects, who lived poor, naked, and deserted, 
full of disease and ulcers, in the most abject misery, to be 
brought to him, attended to his nursing and cure, clothed 

1 John i. 12. 2 Rom. viii. 29. 3 John xx. IT. 4 Ibid, xvii, 21. 

6 Eadmer. in similit. S. Anselmi, c. GG, 

Grace makes us Children of God. 125 

him in royal purple, adopted him as his child, constituted him 
the co-heir of his son and the successor in his empire, fi 
nally, let the imperial command be heralded, that he should 
be obeyed by all as his own son ; would not this extraor 
dinary grace and kindness elicit universal praise and sur 
prise and admiration ? Now, we are by nature infinitely 
more distant from God than the subject is from his earth 
ly king ; the misery, likewise, from which God rescues us, 
is incomparably greater than that of the subject, and the 
glory which God bestows upon us is as much exalted 
above the glory of a temporal sovereign, as Heaven is ex 
alted above earth. Therefore, the blessing and grace 
which God grants by making us strangers His own chil 
dren, are infinitely greater than this earthly grace and 
kindness. He cannot make us His successors in His em 
pire, because He is immortal, and we ourselves would per 
ish with Him. But, instead, He lets us participate in His 
own interminable reign, and what is more, He Himself is 
our inheritance and our royal possession. He gives us 
Himself, the highest and infinite good, which includes all 
other goods. As He alone is worthy of Himself, and all 
the world with all its riches could not make Him infinitely 
happy, so He alone is worthy of those whom He has 
adopted as His children. As His only-begotten Son can 
inherit nothing greater than to see Him face to face, and 
possess and enjoy Him, so the Father bestows upon His 
adopted children the highest gift within His power, He 
gives Himself to be beheld and enjoyed in undisturbed 
possession for all eternity. Our inheritance, and our rela 
tive dignity as children of God, are as infinite as God Him 

But His paternal love was not satisfied with giving us 
Himself for our fruition and inheritance ; He also gave 
His only-begotten Son, to acquire this inheritance for us 
by His infinitely precious blood. Among men, he who 
would be adopted, must exhibit some merit and some 
worthiness. "With God, however, we cannot possess the 

i 2 6 7^/ie Glories of Divine Grace. 

least merit toward being made His children. " }\ hal /* a 
man," says Job, 1 " that thou shouldst magnify him ? or why 
dost thou set thy heart (thy paternal love) iiponldm?" If we 
exerted all faculties of soul and body, and for many years 
performed all good works imaginable, if we besides suffered 
all possible trials and sufferings, and did not cease to labor 
and to suffer unto the end of the world, we would at no 
time be in the least worthy to be adopted by God as chil 
dren and to possess Him. But in reality what have we 
done ? We have nothing to exhibit but sins and faults, 
which even after our adoption as children render us un 
worthy of this inheritance and liable to eternal damnation. 
God s own Son, then, was obliged to give us Himself and 
to sacrifice Himself for us, to make us worthy of the 
sonship of God by His merits and satisfaction. Where was 
there ever such love shown by a father and his own son, 
to adopt a stranger as child and brother ? What return 
shall we make for this love of God ? " Return to God," 
says St. Peter Chrysologus, "by whom you are so well 
loved ; devote yourself entirely to His honor, who has for 
your sake exposed Himself to the greatest dishonor, and 
acknowledge Him Father, whom you know and feel in His 
love to be your Parent." 
1 job vii. 17. 

The Divine Sonship. Regeneration. 


HEN we represent to ourselves our sonship of God 
as an adoptive sonship, we must be on our guard 
not to diminish thereby its perfection and inti 

If among men a father out of gratuitous love adopts any 
one as his son, he can only give him the name and rights 
of his real son ; but he has not the power to generate him 
anew, to impress upon him his own image and make him 
like to himself. By that love, however, which the heavenly 
Father gives us, we receive the privilege not only of being 
called sons of God, but of being such in reality. " Be 
hold, what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon 
us, that we should he called and should he the sons of God." 
As Divine grace in general does not only consist in God s 
bestowing His favor upon us, but in imparting to us, at 
the same time, a supernatural goodness and beauty, by 
which we receive the fruit of this favor and remain worthy 
of it ; so we must likewise say that God not only loves us 
in and through His Son as His children, but besides, that 
He really impresses upon us the image of His Son and 
makes us like unto Him, that we may be truly His chil 
dren. " For whom He foreknew" says the Apostle, 2 " He 
also predestinated to he made conformable to the image of 
His Son, that He might he the first-horn amongst many 
brethren." He wills that we put on His only-begotten 
Son, that we receive the impress of His features upon us, 

1 I. John iii. 1. 2 Rom. Titf. 29. 

128 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

that we be clothed with His Divine glory, and filled with 
His Divine life ; and this He accomplishes, when He re 
ceives us into His paternal bosom and by the Holy Gliost 
generates us and gives birth to us as His children in the 
waters of regeneration. 

" That wliicli is lorn of the flesh, is flesh," said our Sav 
iour to Nicodemus, 1 and cannot be born again of the flesh ; 
but it can and must be born again of water and the Holy 
Ghost, that it may become spiritual and be raised to a new 
spiritual life. Thus says the Apostle St. James : 2 "The 
Father of lights, from whom comes every best and every per 
fect gift, hath of His own will begotten us by the word 

/ truth." And St. Peter adds: 3 "We are born again, not 
of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the word of God, who 
liveth and reigneth for ever." For in regeneration God has 
planted a seed in our nature, from which a new life 
springs up. " Wliosoever is born of God, committeth not 
sin, for His seed abideth in him," says St. John. 4 

This regeneration is easily explained by what has been 
said in the first book on the nature of grace. Generation 
is the act by which a father communicates to the child 
his nature. Thus God generates His only-begotten Son, 
by communicating to Him His own Divine nature and 
essence. If Holy Scripture, then, says that we are gen 
erated and born of God, this signifies nothing else but that, 
by the grace of God, we participate of His own nature; 
and conversely, if we by grace really participate of the 
Divine nature and Divine life, then it is true, in a strict 
sense, that we, similarly to the only-begotten Son of God, 
are generated and born again of the bosom of God. This 
difference certainly exists between the Son of God and our 
selves. The Son of God receives the Divine nature entire 
and essential in its substance ; we, however, receive it in 
the impression of an image. We have a nature infinitely 
different from the Divine, and, as St. Athanasius says, 5 

1 John iii. fi. 2 James i. 17, 18. 3 1. Peter i. 23. I. John iii. 9. 

5 Or. II. co- Arianos, n. 59. 

The Divine Sons hip. 129 

are first created and afterward generated of God, whilst the 
Son of God receives His being solely by this generation 
and has the same substance as the Father. 

Nevertheless,, our relation as children of God to our 
heavenly Father is incomparably more intimate than that 
among men of adopted children to their adoptive parent. 
We are children of God, not only because we are adopted 
, and considered by Him as such, but because we are, be 
sides, similarly to His own Son, generated and born of His 
bosom, since we receive the communication of His Divine 
nature and life, and are filled and animated by His Spirit. 
\Ve are not only His heirs, but our right of inheritance 
flows from this regeneration, as St, Peter teaches j 1 
" Blessed ~be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, ivho, according to His great mercy, hath regener 
ated us unto a lively hope, . . . unto an inheritance in 
corruptible and undefiled, and that cannot fade, reserved in 
heaven for you." Those whom God adopts, He makes 
in truth new men, new creatures; He forms them after His 
own image and that of His Son, He seals them with His 
own Holy Spirit, as the seal of their dignity and the pledge 
of their inheritance. 

2. Here, again, we must let the holy Fathers speak, in 
order that their sublime words may more vividly and 
effectually impress upon our minds the glory of our re 
generation as children of God, and excite in us the feelings 
of gratitude and admiration and correspondingly sublime 

After St. Gregory of Nyssa 2 has described the lowliness 
and wretchedness of human nature on the one hand, and 
on the other the infinite sublimity and glory of the Divine 
nature, he continues: "Yet this man, who is accounted 
as nothing in the universe, who is but ashes and straw and 
vanity, is united to this so glorious and sublime Being, which 
may not be seen, nor heard, nor investigated by reason, 
and is received into the sonship of the God of all things ! 

1 I. "Peter i. 3, 4. 2 De beatitud., cap. 7. 

130 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

What expression of gratitude could be found equal to this 
blessing ? What word, what expression, what idea is cap 
able of celebrating worthily this unexampled grace ? Man 
rises above his own nature and the mortal is made immor 
tal, the frail and perishable is made perfect and imperish 
able, the man of one day and of brief existence is made 
eternal ; in a word, man is made God. For having been 
considered worthy of being made a child of God, he must 
certainly have also the dignity of his Father and be the 
heir of all the paternal possessions." 

"Great is the mystery of this grace," says St. Leo, 1 
"and this gift exceeds all other gifts, namely, that God 
should call man son, and man should call God Father. By 
these names we feel and learn what sentiment may corre 
spond to such a sublimity. For if in the human lineage the 
blot of evil conduct is a stain upon the children of illustri 
ous parents, and an unworthy posterity is brought to shame 
by the glory of its ancestors, to what end will they come 
who, from love of the world, do not fear to be cut off 
from the brotherhood of Christ ? But if among men 
it redounds to their glory that the splendor of ancestry 
should be reflected by its posterity, is it not far more 
glorious that those born of God should exhibit the image 
of their Father and let their heavenly Progenitor be recog 
nized in themselves, as the Lord says: Let your light 
so slihie before men, that they may see your good works, and 
glorify your Father who is in Heaven ? May the chosen 
and royal race correspond to the dignity of its regeneration 
and love what its Father loves, that the Lord may not be 
compelled to exclaim, as He once did through the prophet 
Isaias : I hare brought up children, and exalted them; 
but they have despised Me. Tlie ox knoweth his owner, and 
the ass his master s crib ; but Israel hath not known Me, 
and My people hath not understood. 

" When we pray, Our Father who art in Heaven," says 
St. Peter Chrysologus, 3 " we do not intend to say that God 

1 Serm. (5. de nativ. Dora. . 2 Is. i. 2-3. n In oral. Domini, horn. 07, r~>, 71. 

The Divine Sons hip. 1 3 1 

is not on earth, but rather that we, as His children, belong 
with Him to Heaven, that we are a heavenly race, whose 
Father thrones in the heavens, that a heavenly seed has 
been sown in us, which is to spring up into a heavenly life. 
Whither, man, has the heavenly nature raised you, that 
whilst yet in the flesh and upon earth, you may forget flesh 
and earth and say : Our Father, who art in Heaven ? 
Whoever, then, confesses and believes himself the son of so 
great a Father, let him conform his life to his noble dig 
nity, his conduct to the will of his Father, and prove by 
his sentiments and actions what he has acquired by Divine 

" Since, then, we are of a Divine race, we also receive the 
name of God ; the name of God and His Son is our name 
also, since we are called children of God and brethren of 
Christ. When AVB further say : ( Hallowed lie tliy name, 9 
then we pray that the name of God, which is holy in and 
through itself, may be sanctified and glorified also in us 
His children by our actions ; for by our good actions the 
name of our Father is praised, whilst by our bad actions His 
name is blasphemed. Hear the Apostle : TJte name 
of God through you is blasphemed among the Gentiles. 
Let us, then, endeavor to exhibit a heavenly life and 
Divine morals ; let our whole conduct bear the impress of 
the Divine image, because the heavenly Father rewards 
with Divine gifts those children worthy of his genera 
tion, but casts the degenerate into a painful servitude and 

3. Above all, however, the Son of God Himself reminds 
us of our sublime dignity and destiny in these words : 
" Be you perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." 
Because we are children of God, we must not be satis 
fied with ordinary human perfection, but, conscious of our 
high dignity, we must seek to imitate the great God Him 

St. Augustine quotes the following remarkable words of a 
philosopher : that it were of great benefit to the state, if 

132 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

strong men, though erroneously, believed themselves de 
scended from the gods ; that thus the human mind, inspired 
by the idea of its Divine descent, more boldly undertook 
great deeds, carried them out with more zeal, and more 
certainly achieved successful results. Assuredly the re 
nowned king Alexander was not a little influenced by the 
statement of a certain Ammon (though impiously false in it 
self), that he was of Divine origin, to undertake and ex 
ecute the greatest and most difficult deeds, that challenged 
the admiration of the whole world. How, then, must we, 
who by God s grace belong in truth to a heavenly and 
Divine race, and not only apparently or in a false 
and foolish fancy, direct all our pursuit to God, seek 
to be like unto Him, and to labor and suffer much for His 
sake ! 

" do not degenerate from the high and nolle sentiments of 
the children of God! " were the frequent words addressed to 
his novices by a most enlightened ascetic teacher, Baltha- 
sar Alvarez. These words inflamed their youthful hearts 
and made them heroes. A number of them shortly after 
resolved to leave their country and all, to preach the Gospel 
and proclaim the grace of the children of God to the aban 
doned Indians in Brazil. When on their journey thither 
they were attacked by a violent party of heretics, and 
condemned to die amid frightful torments for the sake 
of their faith, one of them repeated to his brethren the 
words of their teacher. " Do not degenerate from the sub 
lime sentiments of the children of God," and all of them 
suffered martyrdom courageously and joyfully. Let this 
beautiful sentiment henceforth be our watchword also. 
Let us repeat it one to another, let us repeat it to ourselves, 
when we stand in danger of disgracing our high dignity, or 
when it becomes necessary to show ourselves worthy of our 
great Father by an heroic act of virtue. 

These sublime sentiments of the children of God require, 
especially, that we rise above all that is earthly, and de 
spise the whole world. If we are really children of God, 

The Divine Sonship. 133 

then God is with us ; and " If God be for us, who is against 
us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall 
tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or dan 
ger? or persecution? or the sword? But in all these things 
we overcome, because of Him that hath loved us." 1 For 
we are certain, with the Apostle, " that neither death, 
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, . . . nor 
might, . . . nor any creature shall be able to separate us from 
the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." 2 We 
rest secure in the bosom of Almighty God, where no evil 
can approach ns and all the powers of hell cannot harm us. 

We must despise the world, then, because it cannot 
harm us ; and again despise it, because it profits us noth 
ing. The whole world, with all its treasures and riches, is 
not worthy of the children of God. 

* tf Nevermore will he admire human works," says St. 
Cyprian, " who has recognized himself as son of God, 
and he who is capable of admiring anything else beside God, 
precipitates himself from the summit of his high dignity." 

The children of God, who have God for their inheritance, 
cannot and must not be satisfied with earthly riches, with 
sensual pleasures and human honors ; yea, they must con 
sider all this dust a mere nothing, a burden, and must keep 
their desires and wishes immovably fixed upon the heavenly 
gifts. They must apply to themselves the word of the 
Apostle : 3 "Seek the things that are above, where Christ 
is sitting at the right hand of God ; mind the things that 
are above, not the things that are upon the earth." For 
as brethren of Christ we belong thither, where Christ is, 
and His home is our home. 

We must consider ourselves only as pilgrims upon earth, 
journeying towards their heavenly country, and our life, 
therefore, must already, according to the admonition 
of St. Paul, be a life of Heaven. Far from attaching our 
hearts to the things of this world and seeking our happi 
ness in it, we must rather sigh and weep that we are still 

1 Romans viii. 31, 35, 37. 2 Ibid. 38, 39. s Col . m . ^ o 

134 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

far away from our heavenly Father, and that we are not 
yet perfectly regenerated, so as to enjoy in His bosom His 
own glorious and happy life. 

But even this should not make us despondent. For the 
same Holy Ghost, who has regenerated us from the servi 
tude of sin, will also regenerate us from the servitude of 
the flesh, of suffering and death. Aye, even now we pos 
sess the Spirit of our Father, as the pledge of our inherit 
ance and of our future glory, that Spirit by whom we 
remain in God and God in us. The same Spirit, who 
unites in ineffable love and unity the Father with the Son, 
is also sent into our hearts by sanctifying grace, to teach us 
to stammer the name of the Father, to inspire us with a child 
like confidence towards Him, to give us proof of His love, to 
console us in our necessities and sufferings, and to unite us 
now in most intimate love with our heavenly Father. He 
seals our hearts, in token of our vocation ; He anoints our 
soul with the oil of joy, to communicate to it the splendor 
of its Divine dignity. 

Must we not say, then, that we enjoy a greater and more 
intimate union with our heavenly Father, than among 
men children enjoy, not only with their adoptive father, 
but even with their natural father ? Our heavenly Father 
has not only once given us the life of His children; but con 
tinually maintains this life by His Holy Spirit in a manner 
so intimate, that we may say He lives in us and we in 
Him ; He is near us not only from time to time, but with 
out interruption; He is with us and in us by His Holy 
Spirit ; in Him He impresses upon us His paternal kiss, 
and holds us in continuous paternal embrace. 

We may and ought, therefore, to learn from the presence 
and efficacy of this Spirit of God, whether we are in truth 
children of God. For the Apostle says : 1 " Wliosoever are 
led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God;" and 
likewise St. John : 2 " We know that God abideth in us, 
by the Spirit ivhich He hath given us. " The Spirit of 

1 Romans v:1 . 14. 2 I. John iii. 21. 

The Divine Sons hip. 135 

God is love, pure and fervent love for God and man ; He 
is a light that shuns all darkness ; He is a mighty fire 
that consumes all stain and dross. We hold Him, there 
fore, only as long as we walk in the light and prove 
ourselves children of light ; as long as we do nothing to 
grieve Him and offend the eye of God, as long as we do 
not willfully surrender ourselves again to the powers of 
darkness, from which the grace of God had withdrawn us. 
Much more might be quoted, from Holy Scripture and 
the teaching of the holy Fathers, in praise and glorification 
of the grace of sonship. Let us, in conclusion, yet hear the 
gravely important words of St. Leo, 1 by which he exhorts 
us to hold this gift in high honor, and to render sincere 
thanks to God for it. " Let us, then, beloved brethren, give 
thanks to God the Father through His Son in the Holy 
Ghost, because He has shown mercy towards us on account 
of the exceeding charity with which He loved us, and even 
when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in 
Christ,* that in Him we may be a new structure and a new 
creature. Let us put off the old Adam with his works, 
and being made partakers of the generation of Christ, let 
us renounce the works of the flesh. Recognize your dig 
nity, and as participant of the Divine nature, beware of 
returning again to your former lowliness by an unworthy 
conduct. Remember of which head and body you are a 
member. Remember how you were rescued from the pow 
ers of darkness and transferred into the light and kingdom 
of God. By the sacrament of baptism you have been made 
a temple of the Holy Ghost ; take care not to drive away 
so great a guest by evil works, thus subjecting yourself 
again to the slavery of the devil ; for the price of your pur 
chase is the blood of Christ, and He will judge you in jus 
tice, who has redeemed you in mercy." 

1 Serra. i, de nativ. Com. in fine. 2 Eph. ii. 4-6. 


The Wonderful Nourishment of the Children of 


|OD," says St. Peter Chrysologus/ "who has given 
Himself to us as Father, who has adopted us as 
His children, who has made us the heirs of His pos 
sessions, distinguished us with His name, honored us with 
His glory and His kingdom, wills also that we ask of Him 
our daily bread. But what bread is this ? The heavenly 
Father can demand of His children to ask only a heav 
enly bread and this bread is the Son of God, who says of 
Himself : / am the living bread which came down from 
Heaven.*" 1 Oh, lie Himself is the bread, which sown in the 
virgin, leavened in the flesh, prepared in suffering, baked 
in the oven of the grave, seasoned in the churches, laid up 
on the altars, is daily offered to the faithful as a heavenly 
food !" 

Indeed, the first duty of a parent is the nourishment of 
children, and the fulfilment of this duty gives us an 
estimate of the greatness of paternal love. What mortal 
mind, what sagacity of immortals can comprehend the lib 
erality of Thy love towards Thy children, God ? Was no 
other nourishment at the disposal of Thy omnipotence than 
the most sacred body and the most precious blood of Thy 
Son ? Oh, more than paternal heart of my God ! Oh, love, 
that no mother could ever experience or imagine ! Indeed, 
we happy beings have been made, in the words of the proph 
et, 3 " an everlasting excellence, a joy unto generation and gen 
eration. We have been " nursed with the breast of kings. " Of 

1 Horn. 67. 2 John vi. 51. 3 Isaias lx. 15-16. 

Nourishment of the Children of God. 137 

such possibilities nature knew nothing ; never had it expe 
rienced anything similar with the child of its bosom. But 
it was naturally becoming that, in the measure in which 
God is greater than man, and His children are nearer to Him 
than the children of men to their parents ; in the same 
measure the food prepared for the children of God should 
be greater, and should correspond equally to the majesty of 
the Father and the dignity of His children. Therefore, 
God would place no limits to His love, but would pour out 
all the treasures of His omnipotence, and give His children 
for their eternal banquet the most precious of these treas 
ures, that is, Himself. For what is the good thing of Him) 
and what is His beautiful thing, but the corn of the chosen 
ones and wine which maketh virgins to spring forth 9" 

Who would yet compare to this the love of mothers ? 
"Many mothers/ says St. Chrysostom, 2 "give their chil 
dren to other women to be nursed, and even the best and 
most loving mothers, who themselves nurse their children? 
give only their milk, the superfluous portion of their blood, 
which flows spontaneously from their breasts. Christ, how 
ever, nurses us with all the blood of His body and heart, 
pressed from this heart as by a press, only by the violence 
of His infinite love and unspeakable sufferings ; He feeds 
us with His entire body, in order that, as the Psalmist says, 3 
out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings He might re 
ceive praise. 

Some wealthy and luxurious Romans, in order to boast of 
their wealth and liberality, once had a lot of the most pre 
cious pearls dissolved and mixed with the food, so that 
every morsel taken by the guests might be worth more than 
an entire fortune. But if this precious banquet had out 
weighed even the riches of the whole world, what would it 
still be in comparison to that feast which God prepares for 
His children ? For here God gives us, as St. Thomas 
teaches, Himself and all created gifts. " He has given in 
the highest measure His whole being and all His possessions, 
1 Zachar. ix. 17. 2 Horn. 60, ad popul. Antioch. 3 Ps. viii. 3. 

138 Tke Glories of Divine Grace. 

with the Holy Spirit. For there is nothing that does not 
belong either to the spiritual, or corporeal, or Divine nature. 
The corporeal nature comprises all that may be perceived 
by the five senses ; the spiritual comprises the angels, the 
souls, and all spiritual gifts and virtues ; the Divine nature 
contains of itself all that is the best. By giving us in the 
sacrament the body and blood of His Son, God the Father 
gave us the highest and greatest of all corporeal substance. 
By giving us the soul of the same Son, which was more per 
fect in grace and sanctity than those of all angels and just 
men, He gave us the highest and greatest of all spiritual 
substance. Besides this, He gave us the whole Divine na 
ture." With this precious milk God nourishes His chil 
dren ; with this sumptuous banquet, than which there is 
nothing sweeter and more precious on earth, He feasts 

2. But if this nourishment is so precious, we may justly 
conclude from it the preciousness of the life of grace 
which is maintained by it and the greatness of that dignity 
which merits it. If our body receives the Divine blood of 
Christ, is not that a sign that our soul, too, in regeneration, 
must be filled through grace with the blood of Divine 
life and possess a Divine nobility? If our body is united to 
the substance of the body of Christ, is this not a surety 
that by grace we have been made partakers of the Divine 
nature ? Oh, if we comprehended these truths with a lively 
faith and considered them often, how highly would we 
appreciate the life of grace, which is worthy of such a 
nourishment ! And, on the other hand, with what desire, 
what love and fervor would we approach this heavenly 
banquet, which makes us partakers of the Divine nature, 
and fills us with a Divine life ! 

But our admiration and love for this nourishment of the 
children of God, and for grace, the object of this nourish 
ment, will increase, if we further consider how this nour 
ishment is prepared for us. God has chosen the material, 

1 Thorn, opusc. 03, de beatitud. cap. 2, n. 3. 

Nourishment of the Children of God. 139 

bread and wine, in order to prepare for us from both these 
substances a heavenly bread and a heavenly drink by means 
of a wonderful transubstantiation. The entire substance 
of bread is changed into the body, and the entire substance 
of the wine is changed into the blood of the Son of God. 
Is this not a sign that our nature also, in receiving this food 
and this drink, is by grace transformed in a wonderful 
and mysterious manner ? Certainly ; as the natural bread 
is by a miracle made a heavenly bread, so grace, coming to 
us in this sacrament, converts our earthly nature into a 
heavenly nature and without destroying its substance, 
makes it participate in the Divine nature. As we, 
therefore, after consecration no longer recognize bread 
under the forms of bread, but adore the body of the 
Son of God, so we should, after receiving grace, no longer 
consider ourselves men, but children of God, and esteem 
ourselves as sacred. 

It is true we cannot behold this change with our eyes, 
nor perceive it with our senses. But the change of bread 
and wine also remains hidden from our eyes, as the exterior 
forms are not changed. Similarly, our conversion by grace 
is at present veiled from our sight, precisely because it is 
altogether interior and takes place in our innermost soul. 
Exteriorly, the children of God are as other men ; they are 
subject to the same suffering and misery ; with them also 
"the outward man is corrupted," as the Apostle says, 1 "yet 
the inward man is renewed day ~by day ; " they are trans 
formed by the Spirit of God, until hereafter life consumes 
death and a Divine glory and happiness invest and fill the 
whole man. 

Let us, then, neither in this case be deceived by our sense, 
and rather confess with a firm faith the miracle which God 
works in us by His grace. His omnipotence acts, by the 
mouth of the priest in baptism and absolution, upon our 
soul, as well as in Holy Mass upon the bread ; it will assist 
us, too, to convert our sinful and carnal life into a holy and 

1 II. Cor. iv. 16. 

140 7^/ie Glories of Divine Grace. 

spiritual one ; it will break the strongest fetters that hold 
us bound to the earth, that living in the flesh we may not 
live according to the flesh., and though the body burden the 
soul, we may soar up to Heaven, as on pinions of the eagle. 
The change of bread and wine, however, is not the only 
miracle which God works in preparing a heavenly food for 
His children. This one miracle is attended with a count 
less number of others by which God suspends all laws of 
nature, and transgresses all its boundaries for the sake of His 
children. What is more wonderful than that the forms of 
bread and wine are preserved without their substance 
that one and the same body is present at the same time on 
thousands and thousands of altars and in as many taber 
nacles, that this body remains entire and undivided in 
every part of the species, even the smallest ! Must we not 
conclude from this that the grace of sonship, on account 
of which God works such great, countless, and unceasing 
wonders, must itself be one of the greatest miracles of His 
omnipotence ? And if God, for the sake of grace, over 
throws all laws of nature, which He has Himself ordained, 
must we not feel ashamed that we for its sake do not even 
dare to break and conquer the law of sin, that reigns in 
our members and our flesh, to regulate with a strong hand 
our perverse inclinations, that draw us away from God, 
and to practise a holy violence against ourselves ? Are we 
permitted to do less for the reception and preservation of 
the life of grace, than God does to prepare its nourishment? 
Alas for our ungrateful and miserable indolence ! God far 
exceeds the limits of His ordinary Providence to procure us 
the most rare and precious means of grace, and we will not 
deviate in the least from the customary path of our indo 
lent and comfort-seeking nature ? Yea, as if we would 
mock the so zealous and inventive love of God, we even go 
so far as to throw ourselves carelessly and gladly into the 
arms of His enemy, who desires nothing else but our 

Oh, I conjure you, children of God, by the body and blood 

Nourishment of the Children of God. 141 

of Christ which you receive., do not show yourselves un 
worthy in sentiment and action of such a holy and heaven 
ly food ; do not so wantonly dispose of that life which has 
been sustained by such a wonderful and precious nourish 
ment ! Listen rather, as true children of God, to the ad 
monition of St. Peter : "As new-born babes, desire the ra 
tional milk without guile" as children in unspotted purity 
of life, in holy simplicity of manner, in neglect of earthly 
things ; as children removed from the prudence of the 
world, from false cunning, from anger, from concupiscence; 
zealous, docile, desirous of learning, as children that al 
ways grow until, arriving at perfect manhood, weaned of the 
breast of the mother, they dine at the table of the father. 

3. The body and blood of His Son is not yet the greatest 
food which the heavenly Father gives His children. In 
the holy sacrament the Son of God gives Himself directly 
in His humanity, because we are yet too small to be able to 
comprehend Him in His Divinity. But when we shall be 
great and perfect children of God, then He will be our food 
and drink also in His Divinity. There He gives Himself, 
so to speak, as the milk, here as the bread of eternal 
life. "For as the mother/ says St. Augustine, 2 "pre 
pares in her maternal breast as milk, the bread which the 
infant cannot yet eat at the table of its father, so that the 
infant in its weakness may receive it and thus grow strong 
er and taller ; so the Word of God, which is with His 
Father in Heaven the bread of the elect, has descended to 
us upon earth, and made Himself small, that He may be 
taken as milk by the new-born infants of His Father. 
The holy sacrament of the altar, therefore, though great 
and Divine, is only a foretaste of and a preparation for that 
food with which God the Father will nourish us in Heaven. 
There we shall enjoy the Son of God in His glory ; there 
we shall be strengthened by the power of His Divine nature, 
there we shall be nourished by the light of His glory, and 
shall drink in the flood of His Divine love and delight. 

1 I. Peter ii. 2. 2 In Ps. xxx. cf. in Ps. cxix- 

142 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

But because lie is not a food,, which is converted into 
the substance of those by whom it is taken, but rather con 
verts these into His substance, making them partakers of 
His nature, He will unite Himself entirely with us and us 
with Himself, that we may have a truly Divine life and, ac 
cording to His own promise, live of Him and in Him, as He 
lives of the Father. 

Thus the Son of God is the food of eternal life for the 
adoptive children of God, a food for the little ones here on 
earth, a food for the great ones in Heaven. For the little 
ones He is a food in the flesh in the bosom of His mother, 
for the great ones with His Divinity in the bosom of His 
Father ; unless we will rather say, that in Heaven above He 
shares with His grown brethren the same bread, the same 
nourishment that He receives from His eternal Father, 
and lets them dine, as He Himself says, at the same ban 
quet that His Father has prepared for Himself. But His 
food is the Deity itself, the infinite essence of the Father ; 
for this is the highest and> most intimate that the Father 
possesses, it is His own marrow of life. By receiving this 
essence the Son is equal to the Father, by its immediate in 
tuition He enjoys with the Father the highest happiness. 
As brethren now of the only-begotten Son of God, we too 
are admitted to the most immediate, intimate, and ineffa 
ble enjoyment of the Divine essence, and in this enjoyment 
it is for us likewise a food, as the hunger and thirst of the 
children of God can be satisfied by nothing less than God 

4. This sublime mystery is very beautifully explained by 
St. Francis de Sales in the following words : " When we 
look at any object, though it is present to us, without 
which we could not see it, still it is not united to our eyes, 
but merely reflects on them a representation of itself, 
which, according to the philosophers, is the medium 
through which we see. This is also the case with what 
ever we hear or reflect on ; these things are not united to 
our understanding except by another kind of representa- 

Nourishment of the Children of God. 143 

tion, much more delicate than the other, because spiritual; 
this is termed an intelligible medium. But, incom 
prehensible favor ! in Heaven the Divinity will be united to 
our understanding without any intervening medium ; in 
timate union will then supply the place of images and rep 
resentations. Thou alone, God, canst enable us to 
see and feel the happiness and delight of the human un 
derstanding, when receiving in itself, not the image, but 
the real presence and essence of the essential truth and 
Divine Majesty, it will see itself united for eternity to its 
sovereign end and object. We shall be nourished with the 
substance of God Himself, entering our souls through the 
channel of our understanding. 

" The tender love of God towards us is almost incredible; 
for as an affectionate mother makes use of no foreign in 
strument to communicate her substance to the child whom 
she loves, feeding it not only with her substance, but in 
and by it, so our heavenly Parent, to represent to us His 
Divinity, does not confine Himself to conveying an ab 
stract idea thereof to the understanding, but by an excess 
of love to which no words can do justice, He represents 
Himself to the mind Avithout the assistance of any image 
that it may be thereby seen and understood in itself and 
by itself that thereby this Divinity and eternal essence 
should become at once the object contemplated by the under 
standing, and the medium through which it is contemplat 
ed. We shall then fully enjoy the accomplishment of these 
promises of God : Behold, I will allure her, and will lead 
her info the wilderness ; and I will speak to her heart. 
Rejoice with Jerusalem, . . . that you may suck and he 
filled with the breasts of her consolations ; that you mmj 
milk out, and flow with delights from the abundance of her 
glory. For thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will bring 
upon her as it were a river of peace you shall be car 
ried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you. 
As one ivhom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you. 9 a 

> Osee ii- 14, 2 JsaiaSi lxvl . 10 . 13> 

144 Tke Glories of Divine Grace. 

This is the boundless, the eternal happiness to which we 
aspire and of which we have not only received the promise, 
but even the pledge in the Holy Eucharist, the perpetual 
banquet of Divine grace. We therein receive the blood of 
our Divine Redeemer, with His sacred flesh, and His body 
with His blood : His adorable blood is given to us by the 
immediate application of His adorable body to our lips, 
and of His substance to our substance to show us that He 
will as really and certainly unite His Divine essence to us 
in the banquet of His glory. There is, however, one differ 
ence ; for the first favor, though real, is concealed under 
the veil of the sacramental species ; whereas, in Heaven, 
God will communicate Himself to us in unclouded splen 
dor, and we shall behold His Divine Majesty face to face, 
as He is in Himself." 

According to this beautiful explanation of St. Francis de 
Sales the Divine essence is by the grace given to us as in 
timately united to our soul, as the bodily food and the 
sacred body of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament are united 
to our body. The Divine essence is for us a spiritual food, 
but even for that reason it is the most true and perfect 
food, since it contributes more to the eternal life of our 
soul, than the corporeal food to the life of our body. It 
is in the most perfect sense the "super-substantial bread," 
which the Saviour bids us ask. It is a food that contains 
the marrow of Divine life and at the same time a drink that 
fills us with the fulness of Divine happiness. It is a 
food, because it makes us strong and great, and a drink 
because it pours out upon us the stream of God s delight. 

wonderful heavenly bread, Divine bread which God 
has assigned and promised the children of grace ! Even 
the highest angels were not worthy by nature of this bread, 
far less we earthly and sensual men ! How great, then, 
God, must that dignity be which Thou hast granted us by 
the grace of Thy sonship and by which we deserve to ob 
tain such a bread ! Give us, therefore, besides this, the 
grace that, conscious of our high Divine dignity, we may 

Nourishment of the Children of God. 145 

desire no other bread, and seek but this one bread, which is 
Thyself, and which nourishes our soul in Thy bosom unto 
eternal life. " Grant, Lord," we pray with St. Bonaven- 
ture, "that we may always hunger after Thee, the food of the 
angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily supernat 
ural bread, which possesses all sweetness, grace, and deli- 
ciousness. Let my heart always hunger after Thee, whom 
the angels desire to behold ; let my innermost soul enjoy 
it and be filled with the sweetness of this heavenly food ; 
let it continually thirst for Thee, fountain of eternal 
life, fountain of eternal light, torrent of delight, and abun 
dance of the house of God!" 


Grace Establishes the Relation of a True Friend 
ship between God and Ourselves. 

|HE sonship of God enjoys an additional and spec 
ial privilege from the fact that grace makes us 
at the same time true friends of God. 

Among men, children do not always enjoy the friendship 
of their father ; thev may offend him and offend him 
grievously without ceasing to be his children. The grace 
of God, however, makes us children of God in such a man 
ner, that as long as we remain His children, as long as we 
are born of Him, so long we also remain His friends. 
Among men, furthermore, the adoption unto sonship does 
not immediately effect a perfectly intimate, mutual affec 
tion ; there still remains a certain respectful timidity, 
which does not permit a free and familiar intercourse with 
the parent. Grace, however, brings us so near God, that 
we hold intercourse with Him, not only with the reverence 
of a child, but with the liberty and familiarity of a friend. 

Already the sonship of Cod raises us infinitely above the 
state of servitude ; it removes the condition of estrange 
ment, the relation of servitude, and the too great inequal 
ity in which we are placed by nature, and places us in the 
condition of liberty and a certain equality with God. But 
the friendship of God, which God brings us, does this more 
completely and decidedly, if, indeed, it may be called 
friendship in the strict sense of the term. 1 

1 True, if we would estimate our relation to God in grace only by the standard 
of friendship, as friendship is possible among men, we should express its fulness 
as little and even less than by comparison with human sonship. But we do not 

Friends liip between God and Ourselves. 147 

This is confirmed by the words of our Saviour Himself, 
when He so distinctly opposes the friendship He gives us 
to the relation of servitude : " / will not now call you 
servants, lut I have called you friends." ""What is 
greater/ St. Cyril of Alexandria remarks upon this pas 
sage/ "what is more glorious, than to be called and to 
be in reality a friend of Christ ! This dignity surpasses 
human nature. For all things serve the Creator, as the 
Psalmist says, and there is nothing that is not subject 
to the yoke of His servitude. Therefore, the Lord ele 
vates His servants who keep His commandments to a 
supernatural glory, because He does not call them servants, 
but friends, and in all things treats them as friends." 

most sweet and amiable Lord of Thy unprofitable 
servants ! Thou didst consider it too little for us to serve 
in Thy royal palace as laborers and servants, whilst it 
would have been honor enough for us to be permitted to 
serve one of Thy angels ! 

Admire, Christian soul, the condescension of God to 
wards you. He has raised you to the dominion over irra 
tional things, the earth and all upon it ; and whilst you 
are lord of the animals, ought you not to have been the 
servant at least of a seraph ? But not even this service did 
God require of you ; the exalted freedom of your nobility 
should rise still higher and acknowledge no created being 
its superior. For God alone is in truth your Lord, you 
are His subject, and belong to Him with all year faculties. 
But He will not consider you a servant, but receive you as 
His friend. He has sent you His own Spirit, of whom the 
Apostle says : 2 " WJiere the Spirit of the Lord is, there is 
liberty. " Truly, it is a holy and ineffable liberty, not to 
be servants, but friends of the Lord of all things ; a holy 
liberty, when we behold the great God come to us with the 
tenderness of a friend, as if we were His equals, and when 
we may approach Him with the ease and familiarity of a 

consider the friendship of God as a relation separate from that of sonship, but as in 
cluding and perfecting it, or rather representing it in its perfection. 
1 Comment, in Jo- lib. JO, c. 23- 2 II. Cor. iii. 17. 

148 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

friend. Well might Gregory the Great exclaim in admira 
tion : "Ola., how great is the mercy of our Creator; we are 
not even His worthy servants, and now we are called His 
friends ! " 

We consider it a great honor even to be permitted to 
serve a powerful earthly king. To serve God, however, the 
King of kings, is incomparably more honorable than even 
to be a temporal sovereign and govern great empires. 
How highly must we then esteem the friendship of God, 
which unites us with Him in most intimate love and affec 
tion! And how highly ought we to esteem grace, which 
alone qualifies us for this friendship ! 

2. But grace gives us not only the liberty necessary for 
true friendship with God ; it includes, likewise, the other 
condition of friendship, equality. 

True friendship finds or makes equals. The pecu 
liar intimacy and affection between friends either pre 
supposes an equal condition, or, in case there be an in 
equality, friendship removes it. A friend is, so to speak, 
the alter ego, the second self of his friend ; every one 
loves and honors his friend as himself and desires to see 
him loved and respected by others in the same manner. 

Even according to our nature God loves us as His crea 
tures and servants. But the distance between our nature 
and His is infinite and therefore greater, than that in 
this state we might be called His true friends. Even 
those heathen philosophers who supposed the soul to be 
an emanation and a part of the Divine substance did not 
dare to conclude from this that a true friendship might 
exist between God and man. 

Grace alone raises man to that high degree of similarity 
with God and of a certain likeness to Him, that the dis 
tance between him and God is no longer so great as to 
leave him altogether unworthy of God s friendship. The 
splendor of grace was before the mind of the royal Psalm 
ist when he sang : "Thy friends, God, are made ex 
ceedingly honorable ; their principality is exceedingly 

Friendship between God and Ourselves. 149 

strengthened." Grace elevates us to the summit of a Di 
vine dignity ; makes us participants of the Divine nature, 
impresses upon us the image of His being, and thus 
makes us in a certain sense God s equals and worthy of 
His most intimate intercourse. Yea, our nature is so 
transformed by grace and so intimately united to God, 
that God, as it were, recognizes Himself in us and can 
embrace us with the same love which He entertains for 
Himself. Thus man, born in misery and uncleanness, is 
by grace raised above the heavens and embraced by God as 
a true friend. 

We should scarcely believe that God would unite us to 
Himself in such intimate friendship, or even that this were 
possible, if God Himself had not shown, by another wonder 
ful act, how real and perfect He intends this friendship to 
be. In order to show us that He desires to make us equal 
to Him in His glory, He was first made equal to us ; He 
was made man, and as one of our kind He lived amongst 
us for many years, and delighted in being called the Son of 
man. He charged Himself with all the sufferings and 
miseries of our nature, that lie might, as our brother and 
friend, share them with us, and sensibly experience them 
with us. If, then, He descended so low in His kindness, 
in order to become our equal, will He not much rather ele 
vate us to Himself, receive us into His house, and share 
His entire glory and happiness with us ? 

3. What folly and ingratitude, however, were it on our 
part to contemn or even to reject the intimate friendship of 
this great Lord! All the world would consider him a fool, 
who should despise and neglect to consider the friendship 
offered him by a mighty king. So many men give them 
selves the greatest trouble to secure this friendship, even at 
the cost of all possible sacrifices and hardships. Yet their 
success is very often improbable ; and the friendship of 
kings, when gained, is so inconstant, that the least trifle 
often loses it again and death certainly puts an end to it. 
God, however, of His own accord, offers us His friendship, 

150 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

which we need only accept, without much effort on our 
part,, to possess it for all eternity, 

St. Augustine in his Confessions 1 mentions an occurrence 
related to him by an eye-witness, which contributed not a 
little to his conversion : Two friends who were employed 
in the service of the Roman Emperor at Treves and courted 
his friendship and favor, one day retired into a lonely cot 
tage. They found upon the table a life of St. Anthony. 
One of them took it and reading in it was moved and said 
to the other : " Tell me, I pray thee, with all these pains 
we take in the world, whither would our ambition aspire ? 
What do we seek ? What is it we purpose to ourselves 
in this employment ? Can we have any greater hopes 
in the court than to be friends and favorites of the 
emperor ? And then, what is there that is not brittle 
and full of dangers ? And through how many dangers 
must we ascend to this greater danger ? And how long 
will this last ? But the friend and favorite of God, if I 
please, I may become presently, and so forever." This 
speech from the innermost soul made such an impression 
on the other, that both instantly resolved to quit the court 
and in quiet retirement to seek and acquire the friendship 
of the highest King. Let us imitate them, and if we do not 
likewise quit the world entirely, let us endeavor to attach 
more importance to the friendship of God than to the 
friendship of the world and of men. 

But let us also endeavor, in accordance with the funda 
mental law of friendship, to unite ourselves with God, as 
He unites Himself with us, and to become like and con 
form to Him, as He has made Himself like unto 
us. For that purpose only, He has united Himself so in 
timately with us, that, as His true friends, we may be of 
one sentiment, one will, one heart, and one spirit with 
Him. " To have one and the same object of inclination 
or disinclination," says a heathen writer, " that con 
stitutes true friendship." We should endeavor to will 

1 B. viii. ch. G. 

Friendship between God and Ourselves. 151 

only what God wills ; to love only what He loves ; for 
in no other way can we requite His love, since we are un 
able to elevate and endow Him as He has elevated and 
endowed us, by making us His friends. 

4. Friendship is one of the deepest necessities, and on e 
of the greatest goods of the human heart : to love and be 
loved is its desire and its happiness. Alone and in itself it 
feels so lonely, so miserable and forsaken, that it must 
seek another heart outside of itself, to which it may attach 
itself, with which it may communicate, and in which it 
may confide. It cannot rest until it has found another 
heart, and shares its sentiments and sufferings, and until it 
is so united to this heart that both seem to be moved by 
one pulsation. 

Therefore we justly consider ourselves happy if we have 
found such a heart ; for Holy Writ even says : " Blessed 
is he that findeth a true friend." 1 Nevertheless, this 
never gives us perfect peace. The heart of other men, 
even if ever so noble, so good, and loving, is, in itself, 
always miserable and seeks its consolation and happiness 
again in our own heart. Though both approach each other 
very near, and support each other, yet both are too lim 
ited to penetrate each other, and too weak to resist all 
storms. What happiness were it, then, for us to find a 
heart, in itself infinitely noble, good, and loving, which 
could entirely fill our own heart, become one with it, and 
which could give us itself, and besides, all that we might 
wish and desire ! 

This heart, Christian reader, you find with your Lord 
and God, if you are united with Him by His grace. His 
Divine heart approaches yours so near as to penetrate it 
and to fill it with His holy presence, so that both hearts 
are united into one, and are animated by one soul, one 
spirit. And this heart is, at the same time, the highest 
infinite good, that includes everything good, everything 
beautiful, everything amiable. All love, all sweetness, 

1 Ecclus. xxv. 12. 

1 5 2 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

that is found in all hearts in Heaven and on earth, is 
found united in this one heart and is but a small portion 
of its infinite love and sweetness. It alone verifies in the 
fullest sense the description which Holy Writ gives of a 
true friend : ^ A faithful friend is a strong defence ; and 
lie that hath found Mm, hath found a treasure. Nothing 
can ~be compared to a faithful friend ; and no weight of gold 
and silver is able to countervail the goodness of his fidelity. 
A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immortal- 

%. " 

God is a friend, who is present to you not only from 
time to time, but remains with you always without inter 
ruption,, if you do not drive Him away. God is a friend 
whom you may not only occasionally press to your bosom, 
but who continually dwells in your heart and in the inner 
most part of your soul. God is a friend to whom you 
need not express your sentiments in words, but who recog 
nizes and feels every pulsation of your heart, who knows 
your nature and sentiments better than you yourself, who 
understands and fathoms all your love, your feelings, and 
your desires. He is a friend without weaknesses and imper 
fections, whose presence will become sweeter and dearer to 
you the longer you enjoy it. "Ills conversation hath no 
hitter ness, nor His company any tedious-ness." 12 

But you so little esteem this Friend and this friendship 
to which grace introduces you, that you have recourse to 
all other friends in preference to Him. You will not ap 
proach this great and only Friend, whose delight is to be 
with the sons of men, and you will not give Him your 
heart, as He has given you His ? You find His intercourse 
tedious, and prefer the friendship of the world ? How 
ungrateful you are to Him, or rather, how cruel to your 
self ! 

Take to heart those words of the Imitation of Christ : 
" What can the world profit thee without Jesus? To be 
without Jesus is a grievous hell, and to be with Jesus, a 

1 Ewliis. vi. 14-10. 2 wig. viii . 16. 

Friendship between God and Ourselves. 153 

sweet paradise. Whoever finds Jesus, finds a good treas 
ure, yea, good above all goods ; and he that loseth Jesus, 
loseth exceeding much, and more than if he lost the whole 
world. lie is wretchedly poor, who lives without Jesus, 
and he is exceedingly rich, who has Jesus. It is a great 
art to know how to converse with Jesus, and to know 
how to keep Jesus is great wisdom. Thou mayest quickly 
drive away Jesus and lose His grace, if thou decline after 
outward things. And if thou drive Him from thee, and 
lose Him, to whom wilt thou fly, and whom then wilt thou 
seek for thy friend ? Without a friend, thou canst not 
well live ; and if Jesus be not thy friend, above all, thou 
wilt be exceeding sad and desolate. " 

5. Woe to you, indeed, if you basely reject the friendship 
of God. This terrible ingratitude would change God from 
your dearest friend to your bitterest enemy. The greater 
His love was for you, the more terrible would be His hatred 
against you. " He pours out indignation, according as His 
mercy is" 1 says Holy Scripture. The more desirable a 
true and sincere friend is, the more terrible is a decided 
and certain enemy, and as the friendship of God infinitely 
surpasses the friendship of all men taken together, so His 
wrath is more fearful than that which all men together 
might have against us. 

Imagine a man, hated and persecuted to* death by all 
others, shunned and avoided by all, rejected from their 
company as the outcast of mankind, wandering about an 
outlaw, like the fratricide Cain, fearing to come near any 
one, lest he be most cruelly tortured and put to death. Do 
you believe that this man could still eat or sleep quietly, 
could even live for sheer terror and anguish, and would 
not, in his despair, rather prefer instantaneous death to this 
death-like life ? But how much more unhappy is he who 
has God for an enemy and constantly sees the sword of so 
mighty, so wrathful, and so unavoidable a judge suspended 
over his head ! The former may hope to be relieved of his 

i Ecclus. xvi. 12, 13. 

154 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

miserable condition by death ; the latter,, however, precisely 
by death falls entirely into the hands of his fearful enemy, 
with no possibility of escape. How, then, sinner, can 
you be serene and cheerful in the enmity of God, how 
can you yet enjoy a pleasure, unembittered by this fright 
ful thought of your terrible enemy ? 

On the other hand, imagine a man who is loved and re 
vered by all, who meets a friendly greeting from every one, 
who is borne in the hearts and on the hands of all, who is 
overwhelmed by them with presents and blessings, who 
receives all imaginable kind and loving services ; truly, we 
should praise him as the most blessed of men, and should 
envy his happy lot. What were this happiness, however, 
compared with the happiness of him who enjoys the 
friendship and love of God, a love that incomparably sur 
passes the love of all men and angels, a friendship that 
enriches him with all the treasures of God s omnipo 
tence ! 

If there were question of choosing between the friend 
ship and enmity of all men, certainly no one would hesitate 
in the least to obtain at any price the happy lot of the 
first and to avoid the terrible fate of the others. How, then, 
may we hesitate to prefer the friendship of God to His 
wrath and to surrender anything rather than lose it ? For 
if we lose this friendship we are delivered over to the servi 
tude of the devil, in whose hands we must eternally suffer 
for the fearful sacrilege of despising the friendship of 

6. The friendship of God, finally, is purer and nobler, 
and, therefore, more true and precious, the more disinter 
ested it is in comparison with the friendship of men. The 
friendship of men is rarely or never entirely disinterested. 
Even if we do love a friend for his own sake and not because 
he may be of service to us, still we do not exclude the inten 
tion of deriving profit from him ; at least we expect conso 
lation and compassion from his reciprocal love, and feel a 
necessity of being loved in turn by him. God, however, in 

Friendship between God and Ourselves. 155 

no wise stands in need of our friendship ; He can expect no 
profit, no increase of His beatitude from it, since He is in 
Himself infinitely happy. Even the reciprocal love which 
He demands of us is no necessity for Him and cannot 
make Him happier than He already is. This love, and 
all things besides, by which He makes ns His friends and 
enriches and endows us as such, serve only to make us 
blessed and happy. We alone derive benefit from this 
friendship; God has but the glory and the joy to have made 
us happy by making us His friends. 

But you will perhaps say, Has not God made all things 
for His own sake, and does He not also love His friends 
for His own sake ? Certainly He loves you for His own 
sake, because it is only thus that He can truly and perfect 
ly love you. . Do you perhaps desire that He should love 
you only for your sake ? Then His love for you could not 
be so sublime, Divine, infinite, because in yourself alone you 
are not an infinite good and therefore cannot be the object 
of an infinite love. Xow, however, He loves you on ac 
count of His own infinite goodness, which finds a wonder 
ful reflex in you by grace ; He loves Himself in you, and 
therefore you in Himself ; He loves you on account of His 
own Divine nature, which He has communicated to you by 
grace, and therefore His love for you is so intimate, sub 
lime, and infinite. The love of God is, then, more true and 
sincere for the reason that He loves you not only for your 
sake, but for His own sake ; you should rejoice on that ac 
count, and congratulate yourself, and if this were not ac 
tually the case, you should heartily wish and desire it. 

Confide with your whole soul in this disinterested Divine 
friend. You need have no fear that He will withdraw 
Himself in any way from you, from selfish motives. He 
is your friend only to enrich and beatify you. But you, too, 
should be unselfish towards Him ; you should love Him 
as He has loved you, love yourself only in Him ; you 
should give Him yourself whole and entire, as He has given 
Himself to you ; and as He has granted you His grace and 

156 7 *he Glories of Divine Grace. 

favor, you should render Him the tribute oi His honor 
and glory. Thus the sacred ties of friendship will be 
drawn ever closer, you will be made worthy to bear them 
through all eternity for your greater honor and beatitude, 
and will be inseparably united to your Divine friend by 
glory, as you were united to Him on earth by love. 


The Ineffable Love God Bears us, when we 
are in the State of Grace. 


HE mystery of love which God has for us, when 
we have been made His children and friends 
by grace, is so sweet, so deep and inexhaustible, 
that we must devote still further attention to it. 

" What is a man that Tlwu shouldst magnify Mm 9 or why 
dost Thou set Thy heart upon Mm 9 " 1 We cannot repeat too 
often, in our present meditations, these words of admiration. 
"What is man ?" asks St. Bernard, in explaining these 
words. "Doubtless he is as vanity and as nothing; he is 
nothing. But should he be entirely nothing, who is thus 
glorified by God ? Let us take courage, my brethren ! 
Though we be nothing in our own hearts, the heart of 
God may perhaps contain something of us. Father of 
mercy ! God of the wretched ! Why dost Thou set Thy 
heart upon us ? Since Thou hast Thyself said : Where 
thy treasure is, there is thy heart also, must we not, 
then, be Thy treasure, if Thy heart is with us ? But how 
could we be mere nothing, if we are Thy treasure ? " Thus 
speaks St. Bernard. And indeed, from nature we have 
nothing which could cause the love of God to be directed 
towards us, and rest upon us with such tenderness. We 
can be made the treasure of God only by receiving the treas 
ure of grace from the heart of God, and bearing it in our 
frail vessels. How great is the beauty of grace, how glori 
ous its splendor, which delights the heart of God, enrap- 

1 Job vii. 17. 

158 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

tures it, and calls forth, not a general, but a very particular 
and extraordinary love ! 

There are very different kinds and degrees of love. One 
and the same person may with all sincerity love another per 
son in a manifold way, with an ordinary and general, or Avith 
a very particular and eminent love, which tears, as it were, 
the heart of the loving person from his bosom and attaches 
it to the object of his love. Of this last, called the ecstatic 
love, the renowned spiritual writer, Richard of St. Victor, 
distinguishes four degrees: in the first degree, the heart can 
no longer control its love; in the second, it cannot forget this 
love ; in the third, it can find pleasure in nothing else ; in 
the fourth and last, it can no longer be satisfied even with 
the greatness of its love.. The first degree he calls the in 
superable love, because no other affection can displace it ; 
the second is the inseparable, because it is so firmly im 
pressed upon the memory, that it cannot be effaced ; the 
third is the exclusive love, because it brooks no rival ; the 
fourth, finally, is the insatiable love, which can rest content 
and satiated with no food. 

That man in such enraptured love is irresistibly drawn 
towards his God, who is the highest and most amiable 
good, and his greatest happiness, can surprise no one. 
But that God is drawn by such love to man, whom He has 
created by one word of His mouth and with His hand 
formed, from the slime of the earth, that, I say, is impossible, 
unless God by grace implants in man something exceed 
ingly precious and wonderful, the ineffable splendor of 
which transports Him and overwhelms Him with the most 
fervent love. 

2. What, indeed, is more invincible, stronger, and more 
victorious than that love which has conquered the Son of 
God, the almighty and universal Sovereign, and has made 
Him the servant of us all ? It led Him from the bosom of 
the Father, as it were, captive down to this earth; it dis 
armed the mighty wrath of the just Judge and by this 
splendid victory overcame all human misery. " That is 

The Ineffable Love of God. 159 

the nature of the Divinity/ 7 says St. Basil of Seleucia, 
" that He who subdues all is Himself vanquished by 
love for man/ Therefore the Divine spouse in the Canti 
cle of Canticles calls His beloved the soul adorned with 
grace terrible; He compares her to an army set in array; 
He begs her to turn away from Him her eyes, which He lik 
ens to chariots of war and triumph, lest she capture His 
heart and fasten it to the object of His love. 

Yea, the Divine love effects that God is divested of 
Himself and is immersed in the beloved, wherefore it is 
called an ecstatic love. Though we may say of men, to a 
certain extent, that by love they go out of themselves, as 
it were, and place their heart in the heart of their friend, 
yet they can do this only in affection and sentiment. God, 
however, whose being is as unbounded as His love, and 
perfectly united with this love, enters substantially into 
the soul rendered amiable by His graco, and unites Himself 
as intimately with it, as if he were a part of its being. 
And if St. Augustine says of a loving person that the half 
of his soul dwells in the heart of his friend, the love of God 
is incomparably greater, since He imparts to the hearts of 
His beloved friends not only the half of His spirit, but im 
parts it whole and entire. So strong and invincible is the 
love of God, which we acquire by grace. 

That this love unites God also inseparably to His friends 
by a continuous and unceasing remembrance, He Himself at 
tests, through the prophet Isaias, since what He says of the 
earthly Sion may be very well applied in a higher and more 
perfect sense to the spiritual Sion; that is, to the soul in 
grace : ( Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity 
on the son of her womb ? and if she should forget, yet will not 
I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands." 
As the goodness of God in its infiniteness surpasses, beyond 
comparison, all others, so the solicitude of His paternal 
heart for His children infinitely distances the love and 
solicitude of all fathers and mothers, and just there, where 
1 Is. xlix. 15. 

160 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

we are forsaken by these, God assumes the care of us. 
" My father and my mother have left me; hut the Lord 
hath taken me up" says the Psalmist. 

But as God, conquered by His love, descends into our 
heart, not only in affection, but in reality with His Being, 
so this same love not only keeps His remembrance attached 
to us, but keeps Him continually present with us ami in 
us with His essence. As little as God can withdraw His 
affection from us, so long as we are in a state of grace, so 
little can lie withdraw His mysterious presence from us. 
The delight which His presence in the soul in grace affords 
Him is too great; too great the pleasure He takes in its 
beauty. It seems as if He could only there find His rest 
ing place, His happiness; wherefore lie Himself says: " My 
delight is to be with the children of men." 

The exclusiveness of Divine love for those who are in a state 
of grace, is evident from the fact that no being oan be 
admitted to this love without grace. God embraces all crea 
tures with the arms of love, but He does not receive all in 
to His innermost heart. His love for Himself, which is 
very different from that for His creatures, is the love in 
which creatures participate by His grace. In comparison 
with Himself He forgets His creatures and loves them 
only for His own sake, as means of His glorification. In 
the same way He loves His children in a very particular 
manner, as if He could love nothing in the whole world 
besides them : His eye rests upon them alone with infinite 
complacency, and notices the other creatures only in so far 
as they may serve and glorify His children. For the same 
reason God, in the Canticle of Canticles, calls all His 
friends one dove, one perfect one, one spouse; for though 
there be many, yet they all shine with the same light of 
grace, all partake of the same Divine nature, and all en 
joy the Divine love, whole and entire, since this love is 
capable of embracing one as well as many, and many as 
well as one. 

Finally, the love of God for the souls in a state of grace 

The Ineffable Love of God. 1 6 1 

is so insatiable that, not content, we might say, with its 
infiniteness, after being saturated for thirty-three years 
with sufferings and sorrows, it still thirsts, and like 
a devouring fire, not quenched by the waters of many tribu 
lations, it rages ever more strongly, consumes everything, 
and ever seeks new food. So entirely hast Thou, ever good 
and bounteous God, forgotten Thy former blessings ! 
Thou no longer rememberest the expense of Thy Omnipo 
tence at the time of creation to our benefit, nor Thy Incar 
nation, this most incomprehensible of all miracles, nor the 
long and tiresome years of Thy earthly life ! Thou still 
criest out to us: I thirst; and hast Thou not satisfied Thy 
love? No, sweet Jesus; this was not enough for Thy love ! 
After all the uninterrupted, laborious travels through Ju- 
dea, Galilee and Samaria, Thy love was not tired, though 
Thy bodily strength was exhausted. Thou still didst burn 
with the glowing desire, as sweet as it is bitter, to drink the 
cup of suffering to the dregs. Thou didst desire, not single 
drops, but an entire ocean of suffering, as Thou didst not 
desire to shed but a few drops of Thy blood, which would 
have been more precious than a thousand worlds and 
would have sufficed for our redemption, but Thou wouldst 
pour it all out in streams for us. But even this immense 
ocean could not comprehend the fulness of Thy love. 
Thou wouldst gladly have suffered unspeakably more, if 
it had been necessary for our salvation. Then Thou didst 
send Thy Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, from Heaven, didst 
give us Thyself in the most Holy Sacrament, didst give us 
Thy Father and make Him our Father. What yet remains 
that Thou couidst give us to satisfy Thy not yet satisfied 
love? Nothing else, but to unite us ever more closely with 
Thyself, Thy Father, and the Holy Spirit, and to fill us ever 
more with Thy grace and Thyself, the more our capacity 
and desire grow. 

3. happy soul, adorned with the grace of God, which 
enjoys the sweet embrace of the invincible, inseparable, 
exclusive, and what is most, inexhaustible love of the 

1 62 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

mighty Lord of all ! If grace brought us only this one 
good, could it then be outweighed by all treasures and en 
joyments ? It is always sweet and pleasant to be loved; 
but to. be loved with such a love, by so great a Lord, is so 
full of delightful sweetness, that it would seem incredible 
that a man should despise it. What a monster must that 
soul be, which, by forfeiting grace, rejects this love and 
tramples it under foot ! The most stubborn and corrupt 
must shudder at such wickedness. 

Nothing can turn God away from a man who maintains 
grace ; He would be obliged to abandon and give up Him 
self by such separation ; and you, man, desert Him with 
the slightest pretext, every momentary pleasure suffices for 
you to give Him up ! 

God bestows His whole and entire love upon you ; and 
you profane the love which you owe Him alone, by vain and 
disgraceful attachment to transitory things! God never 
tires of loving and embracing you and overwhelming you 
with His benefits; and you weary of the slightest ex 
ertion for so lavish and devoted a Friend ! 

Oh, come, you friends, you lovers and beloved of God, and 
if you can do nothing, at least blot out with your tears the 
shameful insults offered to this eternal love ! Let us be 
the more grateful, the more others and we ourselves for 
merly despised this love. Let us give to God, our most 
constant Lover, a love that can be conquered by no assault. 
Let us make returns for His incessant solicitude in our 
behalf by a lively and joyful remembrance that keeps Him 
constantly before our eyes. For His very particular love 
let us give our entire heart to Him alone, and exclude 
from it all foreign attachments. To His insatiable desire 
of blessing and benefiting us, let us correspond by unwear 
ied endeavor to love Him ever more, and as much as our 
weakness permits to perform ever greater things for His 
honor. " Love never ceases/ says St. Anselm, "to will 
that which it is able to accomplish, and always desires to 
accomplish more than it can accomplish." 


The Heavenly Beauty which Grace Confers up 
on the Soul. 


EAUTY is the principal object of pure love. If 
God, then, embraces our souls with such an inef 
fable love, we may conclude from this that our 
soul must have received from grace a wonderful, heaven 
ly beauty. This is the more true, since the Divine love 
not only estimates things by their true value, but is also 
powerful enough to make the object worthy of being so 
loved. Human love presupposes love in its object ; Di 
vine love, however, works and produces it ; for as all 
things of themselves possess nothing and receive Avhat 
they possess from God, God can love anything only inas 
much as He makes it partake of His infinite goodness and 
beauty. This is true in general of all love of God and of 
the beauty and goodness of all created things, but particu 
larly of the supernatural love of God and the supernatural 
beauty of spiritual creatures. If God addresses Himself to 
our soul with a supernatural love, then He adorns it also 
with a supernatural beauty, and on account. of this beauty, 
which He Himself has given us, His loving eye rests upon 
us with ineffable complacency. But since the love of God 
works in us by grace and rests upon us on account of 
grace, it must be grace that contains this beauty and con 
fers it upon us. 

Thus says St. Augustine, when he speaks of the elevation 
of man to the state of grace: 1 "When human nature, 

1 De Trinlt. lib. 15. cap. 8. 

164 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

distinguished above all others, is cleansed from injustice, 
it is converted from deformity into beauty." Still more 
appropriate is the teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria, 1 
that by grace we are transfigured into a Divine form and 
thus receive a more than earthly beauty. 

Indeed, a most perfect image of the Divine nature and 
glory is impressed in our soul by grace ; the soul is 
made a true mirror of God s beauty and majesty which 
it reflects in its entire purity and completeness. It 
is made a child of God, an adoptive child, which is clothed 
with the precious robe and royal ornaments of God s own 
Son and, like Him, is invested with light as with a mantle, 
and a regenerate child, into whom the heavenly Father 
breathes His own life and imprints His own features, as 
He does to His only-begotten Son. The soul uj._made dei- 
form, as the holy Fathers so often say, i. e., of a gouli^f 
form, and thus participant of the beauty peculiar to God. 
Whoever, then, would represent to himself the beauty of a 
soul in grace, ought first to have beheld the infinite beauty 
of God Himself, that beauty which the angels desire to see, 
which unites in most perfect harmony all created beauty, 
and which is the prototype, the measure, and unattainable 
end and ideal of all that man, or rather, that God Himself, 
can imagine beautiful and glorious. 

Moreover, our soul is made by grace a temple of the Holy 
Ghost and of the Blessed Trinity, the real throne of God, 
a Heaven upon earth, a spiritual city of God, of which the 
Jerusalem of the Jews was only a figure. But will not 
God make every effort to adorn this holy temple suitably 
to His majesty ! If He surrounds the sun in the skies 
with so much splendor, if He covers the earth, which 
is but His footstool, with the richest and most di 
versified tapestry of beautiful verdure, crowns it with 
wreathes of loveliest flowers, and encircles it with silvery 
threads of streams and rivers, what heavenly treasures, 
what precious pearls, what magnificent splendor will He 
i Contra Antbropom. c. 8, 

The Beauty Grace Confers upon the Soul. 165 

bestow upon the temple of our soul, in which He dwells 
with all the love of His Divine heart, and will dwell for all 
eternity ! And if men strive with all the resources of 
wealth and art to erect grand and magnificent material 
temples to the Divinity ; how much rather will God adorn 
and glorify the sanctuary of our soul, where He is adored 
in spirit and in truth ! " To the soul in a state of grace," 
says St. Ambrose/ "God speaks as once to Jerusalem : 
Behold, Jerusalem, 1 have painted tliy walls in tlie splen 
dor of light. That soul is painted by God which be 
holds in itself the loveliness of virtues and the splendor of 
piety. That soul is beautifully painted which reflects 
the image of Divine activity. That soul is beautifully 
painted, which is resplendent with the glory and the image 
of the substance of the Father." 

2. Solomon, therefore, in his Canticle of Canticles, 
praises nothing so much as this Divine beauty and glory of 
a soul in grace. No mortal man, however, can express or 
comprehend the nature and greatness of this beauty. If 
the mere natural beauty of the soul surpasses beyond 
comparison the beauty of all bodies, even that of the sun, 
how much more the supernatural beauty which it receives 
from grace ? For there exists a much greater distance be 
tween grace and the nature of the soul, than between the 
latter and all the beauty of the visible world. Nor does 
the heavenly splendor of grace suffer from the fact that 
our bodily, or even our mental eye, is incapable of beholding 
it ; this is rather a proof of its excellence, for whatever we 
are able to see can only be a limited and earthly beauty. 
This, however, is certain, says the blessed Blosius, that if 
we could behold the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, 
we should be enraptured and transported with wonder and 

When God had once revealed this beauty to St. Cather 
ine of Siena, she covered with kisses the footsteps of those 
who were engaged in bringing sinners back to the grace of 

1 Hexaetn. lib. C. cap. 7. 

1 66 TJie Glories of Divine Grace. 

God, and transported with joy, she said to her confessor : 
" Had you, my father, beheld the beauty of one soul 
adorned with grace, you would certainly, for the sake of 
one such soul, gladly suffer death a thousand times." 
Christ Himself, who was drawn down to this earth by the 
splendor of holy souls, said to St. Bridget that if she be 
held this splendor she would be dissolved as a decayed ves 
sel, and sink down without life. 

As our eyes are dazzled, not only by the sun itself, but by 
its reflex from a bright crystal, so the human soul cannot 
bear, not only the inapproachable light of Divine glory, 
but not even its image in the spirit, that is filled with 

Like God Himself, this, His image, too, is incompar 
ably more splendid than the material sun. St. Fran 
ces of Rome experienced this when she beheld beside 
her an angel, whose dazzling brightness darkened the light 
of the sun. 

Yet it is still more wonderful that even the angels, nat 
urally accustomed to heavenly spectacles, are enraptured 
at the beauty of grace. For the angels cry out in. the Can 
ticle of Canticles, on beholding a soul united with God by 
grace : "Who is this, that cometh up from the desert, 
flowing witli delights, leaning upon her Beloved ?" 1 And, 
indeed, the height of glory to which God raises the soul, 
favored with grace, bearing it, as it were, in His arms, and 
the perfect loveliness which He pours out upon it in 
streams, by the breath of His mouth, is so great that even 
the natural beauty of the angels vanishes before it like a 
shadow. Their wonder, therefore, is so much greater when 
they behold a soul, before buried in deep misery in the 
dreary desert of this earth, clothed with such splendid" 
beauty. This is as wonderful, says St. Chrysostom, as 
if a miserable and crippled man, deformed by age and 
disease, were restored by an unexpected cure to the bloom 
of youth and received the royal purple and sceptre. 

1 Cant, of Cant. viil. 5. 

The Beauty Grace Confers upon the Soul. 167 

The greatest surprise, however, we experience when we 
see and hear that God Himself beholds this beauty of 
grace with admiration and delight. For what else does He 
mean to indicate by those words in the Canticle of Canti 
cles : " How beautiful art thou, my love, how beautiful art 
thou!" 1 and by the following vivid description of her 
beauty. Certainly God would not make so much of the 
beauty of material bodies, which form but His footstool, 
nor of the beauty of any other pure creature, which He 
has produced out of nothing by His almighty word. God 
can admire nothing but what is Divine, as He considers 
throughout all eternity His infinite beauty and loveliness 
with the same infinite delight ; so His eye rests with un 
speakable satisfaction upon the image of His Divine nature 
which the Holy Ghost impresses as a seal upon our soul. 
He is astonished, as it were, at the wonderful power of His 
love, which is able to adorn with such beauty a poor mis 
erable creature, and to make this creature so like to Him 
self. He is astonished at the magnificence of His royal 
palace, which He has clothed with the gold of His grace. 
He is astonished at the beautiful and lovely garden, with 
never-fading bloom, which His love has planted, refreshed 
by the breath of His Holy Spirit, as by a mild, vernal 
breeze, and in whicli He dwells with unspeakable delight. 
And thus He repeatedly cries out : "How beautiful art thou, 
my love, how beautiful art thou ! " 

Does not this twofold exclamation indicate also a two 
fold beauty of the soul ? The soul is beautiful, first, by a 
created beauty, by the splendor of grace, that invests and 
surrounds it, that covers it with the precious golden robe 
of all supernatural and Divine virtues. The soul is again 
and doubly beautiful by an uncreated beauty, that, namely, 
of the Holy Spirit, who has erected His throne within it. 
For as the palace of a king must first be beautifully fur 
nished, to receive the king worthily and surround him with 
becoming glory, but receives its greatest ornament in the 

1 Cant, of Cant, iv, 1. 

1 68 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

king himself; so the Holy Spirit first forms our soul into 
a magnificent and glorious temple, and then confers up 
on it its highest ornament and brightest beauty by His 
own presence. The soul, adorned with grace, is but a 
golden setting for the most precious jewel, the Holy 
Spirit and God Himself. As in a ring the gold is not 
identical with the jewel, yet both are so closely united as 
to form but one whole and one beauty ; so the Divinity is, 
indeed, distinct from the soul, but by love so intimately 
united to it, that both seem to have one and the same 
beauty. This same sweet mystery was revealed by our 
Lord to St. Theresa by another beautiful image. He 
showed her the soul as a crystal globe, that was not only il 
luminated from Avithout by the rays of the Divine sun of 
grace, but bore this sun in its centre. From this centre 
the sun filled with Divine splendor the different parts of 
the globe, which were said to signify the different facul 
ties of the soul. Therefore the Psalmist sings of the 
daughter and spouse of God : "All the glory of tlie king s 
daughter is within." 

If God Himself, then, considers the beauty and loveliness 
of your soul with such delight, ought not you, Christian 
soul, gladly to conform your judgment to the judgment of 
this highest and infallible judge and critic of art, even 
though that beauty be invisible to you? Will you still dare 
to esteem any other beauty, compare it, or even prefer it to 
this beauty ? 

3. But if you wish to compare the beauty of grace with 
all other beauties that delight you, well, then the compari 
son will teach you still better the superiority of grace. 
For everything found in other beauties is found in 
infinitely higher measure and without any imperfection in 

Lifeless bodies delight you by the harmonious composi 
tion of their parts, by their pleasing colors and their 
brilliancy ; yet their beauty is but external and transitory. 
Grace, however, effects a heavenly harmony among the 

The Beauty Grace Confers upon the Soul 169 

faculties of your soul, sheds over it a Divine lustre, and 
glorifies it not only externally, but from within with eternal 
and imperishable beauty. 

Incomparably greater than the beauty of lifeless things 
is that of living creatures in the bloom of their youth, in 
their manifold activity, in the fulness of their vital power. 
But where is there a higher, purer, and more perfect life, 
than in your soul by grace ; a life that never grows old and 
is always rejuvenated, that brings forth heavenly blossoms 
and sheds about it the fragrance of Divine bliss ? 

More than all material beauty, it is the beauty of virtue, 
the purity of heart, the realized living order of the moral 
law in the soul, which delight every heart not yet entirely 
corrupt. But all these receive an infinitely greater lustre 
by grace, by which the Holy Ghost Himself impresses upon 
our soul the law of God, unites it most intimately with the 
archetype of all justice, adorns it with the supernatural and 
Divine virtues and invests it with justice and the true 
sanctity of the Son of God. 

If, finally, all harmony, all splendor, all joy of life, and all 
virtue in creatures is only a shadow of the highest beauty 
of God and vanishes before its splendor, then grace, as 
the image of the Divine nature, must give to the soul a 
beauty and loveliness that include and infinitely surpass 
all natural and created harmony, splendor, life, and virtue, 
and all their effects, as the sun includes and surpasses the 
colors of the rainbow. 

4. But if this exquisite beauty of grace is not powerful 
enough to delight and captivate your heart, then you ought 
to shudder at least at the terrible hideousness which sin 
produces in you by depriving you of grace. Sin places it 
self like a dark cloud between the Divine sun and your 
soul, and in a single moment the splendor of its heavenly 
beauty is extinct, the supernatural life is killed, the virtues 
are destroyed, the garb of the children of God is tattered. 
From a fragrant and lovely garden of God your soul is con 
verted into an abominable and pestilential abyss, the haunt 

i 70 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

of detestable reptiles and serpents and of the hellish dragon 
himself. From an image of your most lovable God you 
are made an image of hell and the devil. 

The devil, however, is so hideous, that our Lord told St. 
Bridget that if she saw him in his deformity, she would 
either sink lifeless in a heap or would continue to live only 
with unspeakable pain. And St. Catherine of Siena, who 
had seen him but a moment, was seized with such terror, 
that she would rather walk until doomsday barefooted, 
over glowing coals, than to look upon him again. He who, 
when in grace, was an angel of light and the reflex of Di 
vine glory, was by sin converted into so deformed and hid 
eous a monster. 

In the same manner is your soul, my dear Christian, dis 
figured, when sin expels the Divine sun from it. This, 
too, was demonstrated to St. Theresa by the above-men 
tioned image of a crystal globe, which, after the retreat 
of Christ from its interior, contained nothing but black 
night, and a foul and pestilential mass full of ugly and de 
testable vermin. 

What must be the feeling of your guardian angel at this 
terrible change ? How great must be his sorrow and that 
of the whole heavenly court, which before so delighted in 
beholding you ? Must not you yourself be shocked at your 
own deformity and flee from your own sight ? Yes, flee 
indeed, but to that bath that cleanses you from this filth 
and so easily restores your previous beauty. God has pre 
pared such a bath for you, and calls you thither, as Eli- 
seus sent the leprous ISTaaman to the Jordan, to wash him 
self seven times therein. Not seven times, but once only 
need you wash yourself to recover your former beauty and 
purity. Once only need you repent of your sins out of pure 
love of God, or to enter the tribunal of penance with sincere 
conversion of heart ; once only need you earnestly detest 
your sins, and you are pure and immaculate as before. Oh, 
how powerful are these tears of penance ! How great is the 
goodness and mercy of God to wards you, to so easily restore 

The Beauty Grace Confers upon the Soul. 171 

to yon the lost beauty ! Show yourself, sinner, worthy 
of this mercy and do not hesitate a moment to raise your 
self from this mire of sin. 

5. You, however, good and faithful preserver of the robe 
of beauty, given to you by God, who have not yet lost it, 
continue to guard it in future, not only against losing it, 
but against all stain and soil which might disfigure it, 
otherwise you would appear uglier in the royal purple of 
grace than in the common garb of nature. 

What pains and time and what expense is spared, to pre 
serve, to increase and adorn the exterior and transient 
beauty of the body ! Not only some hours, but whole 
days are spent to carefully and diligently arrange the hair 
or an article of dress, and to add grace and dignity to the 
deportment of the body. And should one hour be too long 
a time to cleanse and beautify the soul ? Should we be 
unwilling to bestow that care upon the beauty of soul 
that secures us the friendship of God and Heaven, which 
we bestow upon the hair or a dress ? Whilst the world 
hopes by such trifles to gain the admiration of men, we are 
assured by God Himself that even the least solicitude that 
we bestow upon preserving the purity or enhancing the 
beauty of the heavenly figure of our soul, secures for us a 
greater measure of His love. In the Canticle of Canticles 
He Himself says : "Thou hast wounded my heart, my sis 
ter, my spouse, . . .li itli one of thy eyes, and with one hair of 
thy neck." Every aspiration to God, every virtuous beauty, 
even the least, is made by grace a powerful missile, that 
wounds, not the inconstant heart of man, but the eternal 
and constant heart of God. Every step in the pathway of 
grace is so beautiful and lovely, that God, in beholding 
you, exclaims : "How beautiful are thy steps in shoes, 
prince s daughter !" Each of your words that you ad 
dress to God is so sweet and lovely, that it draws down 
upon you His richest blessing, as the Psalmist says : 
" Grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore God hath 

1 Cant, of Cant. iv. 9. 2 Ibid. vii. 1. 

172 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

blessedthee for ever." Nothing is small in grace ; each and 
every thing is great there, because everything gains us the 
love of God. 

From this, moreover, it follows that we are not allowed to 
despise or neglect or even love any man less on account of 
an ugly appearance, or a deformed body, or inelegant dress, 
or the like. A frail and decayed frame may inclose a 
picture that is worthy of the highest love of God and His 
empire, and will in a short time be unveiled with great 
glory. It becomes the Christian to judge, not according 
to his senses, as the brutes, nor even according to his 
reason alone, as the heathens, but according to the Divine 

1 Ps. xliT. 3. 

Grace makes the Soul a True Spouse of God. 


jE have seen how by grace God has become our 
Father, Brother, and Friend, and thus approached 
us as near as one man may approach another. 
But God will so entirely be all in all for us ; and the foun 
tain of His grace is so copious and inexhaustible, that as 
long as we can find a more intimate union among 
men, we must not rest satisfied without comparing this 
also to the relation of our soul to God. 

The union between bride and groom, between man and 
wife, is by nature as well as by Divine ordinance the most 
intimate possible among men : " Man shall leave his fath 
er and mother,, and shall adhere to his wife ; and they shall 
be two in one flesh." 1 

The ineffable love which God bears a soul in the state 
of grace, and the supernatural beauty and loveliness which 
He bestows upon it, already intimate to us that this 
relation also is established between God and the soul, and 
that in the highest and most perfect manner. Matrimony, 
according to the teaching of the Apostle, is a great sacra 
ment, that is, a sacred sign of sublime significance, only 
because it represents the union of Christ with the Church, 
and therefore also of God with the soul. But as the 
reality and the ideal are infinitely more perfect than the 
sign and the copy, so the union of God with the soul is 
incomparably more true and intimate than that of man 
and wife. These are one in one flesh only ; God, however, 
is one with the soul in the same spirit. He who adheres 

1 Eph. v. 31. -Genesis ii. 24. 

1 74 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

to a wife, says the Apostle/ is made one body; l>ut lie 
ivlto adheres to the Lord, is one spirit. 

But as the spirit is above the flesh, yea,, as God is exalted 
above the flesh,, so the union of God with the soul is 
exalted above that of man and wife. Yea, this union of 
the soul with God in one spirit is so true and intimate, 
that its equal cannot be found in all created nature, and 
that no created reason can suspect or comprehend it. God 
immerses the soul in the ocean of His Divine light, inun 
dates it with the stream of His Divine happiness, fills it 
with the whole plenitude of His Divine being, embraces it 
wiih the arms of His love, and presses it so closely to His 
bosom, that no power in Heaven or on earth can separate 
it from Him. 

It is certainly a great thing to have God for Father, 
Brother, and Friend ; but all these sweet names and infi 
nitely more are contained in the one by which lie calls the 
soul His spouse. It is His spouse whom God in the Canticle 
of Canticles now calls His sister, now His friend, now again 
His daughter, and considers her even as His mother. "As 
among us men," so says St. Bernard, "the name of a 
mother, a sister, and a friend does not signify as much as 
the name of a spouse, so the mutual sweet affections of 
God and the soul could find no sweeter expression than in 
the name of a betrothed and spouse, who have all in com 
mon, nothing separate or divided. Both have but one 
inheritance, one house, one table, one bridal chamber, and 
finally one flesh." 2 

This, then, reveals most clearly the ineffable greatness of 
grace. Grace makes us children of the Father, confers 
upon us a Divine nobility, makes our soul of equal birth 
with the Son of God, and worthy of His espousal. Grace 
gives our soul that heavenly beauty and loveliness which 
so fascinate the Son of God that He descends from His 
Divine throne to embrace and lead the soul home to His 
heavenly Father. Grace introduces the Holy Ghost into 

1 I. Cor. vi. 16. 2 St. Bernard, in cant. serm. 7, n. 2. 

Grace makes the Soul a Spouse of God. \ 75 

our soul, who, as the bond of Divine love, is at the same 
time the brides-man, the pledge, and the wedding-ring of 
its espousals with the Son of God. Grace gives the soul 
that bold confidence to ask, with the spouse in the Canti 
cle of Canticles, the kiss of His mouth, which, according to 
the explanation of St. Bernard, is nothing else than the 
same Holv Spirit whom the Son of God breathes into His 

J i 

spouse, that she may feel His love and intimate presence. 
Grace finally unites the soul to God in one spirit, intro 
duces it into His glory, and places it upon His throne, in 
order that it may sit as "a queen, on His right hand, in 
gilded clothing, surrounded with variety." 

This union removes all barriers that might in any way 
separate the soul from God. As His child the soul was 
yet restrained by childlike reverence ; as friend it could 
not yet claim Him ; but as spouse it approaches unembar 
rassed, possesses Him with entire right, and may, there 
fore, exclaim : " My Beloved to me, and I to Him, who 
feedeth among the lilies."* " I to my Beloved, and His 
turning is towards me." 3 

2. But if the other relations to God, in which we are 
placed by grace, are so sweet and sublime, how agreeable and 
dear to us ought this last kind of union to be ! Among 
all earthly feelings none are stronger and more powerful 
than those that institute and maintain matrimony. Ought 
not our soul, then, to be drawn with far greater force and 
might to embrace its heavenly Spouse, who has become all 
for its sake, who will adhere to it whole and entire, who 
does not violate the bloom of its purity, but renders it 
youthful and fair by His connection, who has loved it with 
eternal lovo and has delivered Himself unto death for its 
sake, from whose holy side it was born, by whose precious 
blood it was cleansed from its sins and adorned with Divine 
glory ? How great should be its endeavor to please Him 
alone and exhibit itself, as He desires, not having spot or 
wrinkle, or any such thine/, but that it should be holy and 

1 Ps- xliv. 10. 2 Cant, of Cant. ii. 16. 3 Ibid. vii. 10. 

176 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

without blemish ! " How much, ought the soul to strive to be 
entirely His, as He has given Himself entire to it, to love 
Him, as He loved it, and to adhere to Him with unswerving 
fidelity ! How much ought it to desire, in this mortal life, 
where it celebrates only the espousal, to be worthy of Him, 
in order to be admitted hereafter to the marriage of the 
Lamb, to rest for all eternity at His side in the bosom of the 
Father, and enjoy the vision of His Divine countenance ! 

In comparison with this can it be esteemed anything 
great, if a virgin of humble birth, as, for instance, Esther, 
is elected to be the spouse of a mighty earthly king ? The 
king is a man, like herself, who lives but a short time and 
cannot satisfy all the desire of her heart. He may give her 
an empty name, settle earthly riches and external ornaments 
upon her ; but an internal, higher beauty he cannot grant 
her. And yet such espousals would be considered and 
celebrated among men as the best imaginable fortune. 
Learn from this, Christian soul, how highly you should 
esteem your heavenly Spouse, the King of Heaven and 
earth. The betrothed of an earthly king would be accused 
by all the world of the greatest folly and the meanest in 
gratitude, if she either declined the proffered hand of the 
king, or, after accepting it, conducted herself in a manner 
unworthy of him, became faithless and sought the company 
and the embrace of his servants, or perhaps even of his 
bitterest enemy. But would not you act far more 
meanly and foolishly, if you declined the hand of your 
Divine Spouse, defiled His heavenly bridal-chamber, which 
is your own heart, admitted into it His bitterest enemy, 
the devil, and surrendered yourself to this unclean and 
abominable seducer ? Must not the whole heavenly 
court weep at this, and all the elements rise up to avenge 
this shameful insult offered the king ? Alas, that we must 
only too often behold this detestable outrage, and perhaps 
have committed it too often ourselves ! 

3. St. Thomas, following St. Augustine in this, entimer- 

1 Eph. v. 27. 

Grace makes the Soul a Spouse of God. i 77 

ates especially three gifts of matrimony, which constitute 
its honor and its happiness, fidelity, the sacrament or the 
sanctification, and the offspring. Fidelity indicates the in 
divisible unity of matrimony by which husband and wife 
belong exclusively to each other. The sacrament or the 
blessing indicates the hallowed indissolubility of the tie 
formed by God, as the Saviour says: " WJiat God liatli joined 
together, let no man put asunder." The child, finally, repre 
sents the fruit of matrimony, its crown and seal, since it 
lets the married couple enjoy the ineffable pleasures of the 
father and mother, and unites them still more closely. 

All these three endowments of matrimony are found in 
a far greater measure in the union which grace effects be 
tween God and the soul. It must only acquire, preserve, and 
enjoy them ; for God, on His part, leaves nothing undone to 
promote their obtainment and preservation and increase. 

Of fidelity God Himself says, by the prophet Osee : "I 
will betroth thee to Me in faith, and thou shalt Jcnoiu that I 
am the Lord;" and the Apostle holds up to men the fidel 
ity of God to His spouse as a model fidelity to their wives, 
when He says : 2 " Husbands, love your wives, as Christ al 
so loved the Cliurch and delivered Himself up for it." 
God gives Himself to His spouse whole and undivided, and 
if He has elected countless sponses beside yourself, He does 
not cease to belong entirely to you, and His love for you is 
not lessened on that account. He is as the sun, which, 
though united by its rays with a thousand eyes, is yet seen 
and enjoyed in its entirety by each single eye. You ought 
rather to rejoice at the greatness and power of your Beloved, 
who is able to render so many souls happy at the same time ; 
you ought to consider the others your brethren, love them in 
your heavenly Spouse, and thus their happiness will increase 
and multiply your own. 

The heart of your Spouse is infinitely great and can, there 
fore, embrace so many ; yours is infinitely small and narrow, 
and yet you will divide this small heart and attach it to a 

1 Osee ii. 20. a Eph. v. 25. 

178 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

thousand different things ! If you give it entirely, you do 
nothing that can repay His love in a worthy manner, and 
you are not able to embrace it entirely. Therefore He is 
so jealous of your fidelity, as the prophet says : " The Lord 
thy God is a jealous God." He demands for Himself every 
pulsation of your heart, every act, every sentiment, and is 
justly angry if beside Him you suffer anything else in 
your heart, which you do not love for His sake or in ac 
cordance with His holy will. 

But even after you have offended His holy jealousy, He 
does not cease to be faithful to you. This jealousy im 
pels Him to seek with greater solicitude to gain your affec 
tion again, and in proof of His unspeakable love, He plants 
all outlets and by-paths with sharp thorns, to leave you no 
other way than that which leads you to Himself. Where 
among men do you find such fidelity and undivided love ? 
And if you do not find them there, why will you deprive 
yourself by your culpable levity of their enjoyment in God ? 

4. The bond of union between God and the soul is, on 
the part of God at least, eternal and inseparable, as the 
eternity and unchangeableness of God require it. The 
same Spouse who has said : " 1 will betroth tliee in faith," 
has also said : " T have loved thee with an everlasting love." 
Your Spouse, Christian soul, who has loved you with an 
everlasting love, likewise gives Himself to you forever ; He 
can neither die, nor withdraw from you out of disgust, as 
long as you do not yourself, by your own great fault, suffer 
the death of sin or feel loathsome and disgusted at your ever 
sweet and amiable Spouse, and thus with your own hands 
sever the ties that unite you with Him. Sometimes, in 
deed, He seems for a short while to withdraw from you and 
leave you to yourself. But this He does only in wholesome 
chastisement of your neglect of Him, or soon to return to 
you with greater kindness and love. Oh, do but despise all 
other pleasures and enjoyments, avoid all idle distractions, 
devote all your time to His intercourse and service, and 
your union with Him will be more intimate from day to 

Grace makes the Soul a Spouse of God. 179 

day, until He Himself will come to receive you into the eter 
nal mansions of His Father ! There no power in Heaven or 
on earth, not even you yourself, will be able to separate your 
self from Him, and in His embrace, in the light of His counte 
nance, you will rejoice for all eternity in blissful exultation. 

5. The third blessing of matrimony, fecundity, is found 
here, no less than the two others, in the highest degree, 
It is a heavenly and wonderful fecundity, to which the 
matrimonial fecundity can scarce remotely be compared. 
It is a fecundity so much greater and more glorious, as it 
does not violate the purity and virginity of the spouse, 
but elevates and glorifies her and produces a fruit that 
does not separate from the bosom in which it has been 
generated, but remains therein, as the bloom of a tree is 
the splendor of its purity and its most beautiful adornment. 
As the dew, falling from Heaven, fructifies the plant, so 
the Son of God fructifies the soul in the state of grace ; 
and as the sun by its light enters the clear eye and is re 
flected by it, so He produces in the soul the image of His 
Divine being, and is, as it were, born again in the soul. 

In the natural birth the child leaves the bosom of the 
mother and is a person, separate and distinct from her. 
The soul, however, by grace receives within itself the image 
of its heavenly Spouse, by which it is made His child, is 
made similar and conformable to Him, is united to Him by 
all the ties of the most intimate relationship and possesses 
all the joy and happiness that such a relation can bestow. 
What a wonderful fecundity, which does not cause the 
blossoms of virginity to wither, and yet produces the most 
perfect fruit, yea, where the blossom is the fruit itself ! 
What a wonderful fecundity, where the Son of God, be 
gotten from the luminous bosom of the Eternal Father, 
is by the light of grace born again in the soul ! What a 
wonderful fecundity, in which the Mother does not sacri 
fice her life for the sake of her child, but is herself born 
again to a new life! 

The more the soul is regenerated and made to bloom in 

1 80 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

the gracious light of its Spouse,, the more will it receive with 
in itself His image, and experience His strength ; the more 
will it endeavor, too, to produce for Him abundant fruits 
of good works, to manifest its gratitude and be united 
ever more closely to Him. This offspring of virtue, says a 
heathen philosopher, is certainly to be preferred to all cor 
poral posterity. They are children of the Spirit, conceived 
of the Holy Ghost and born in our heart ; their birth is so 
easy and quick, that a moment is sufficient thereto, and so 
full of joy and consolation, that its recollection delights us 
a long time. The natural progeny is limited to a very 
small number of children ; the spiritual knows no number 
or measure ; this offspring may be multiplied manifold 
every day, and as they do not perish in all eternity, they do 
not trouble the parent by the fear of an untimely death, but 
rather give the soul a certain prospect for eternal life in 
Heaven. The natural fecundity produces a posterity that 
inherits and takes unto itself the wealth of the father and 
mother ; the spiritual children, however, give the parent 
rather the right to an eternal, heavenly inheritance, and 
instead of dividing and consuming the existing riches, 
increase them to an infinite measure. 

Oh, how much happier than a mother according to the 
flesh is the soul espoused to the Son of God, if she only 
do not sever the heavenly tie that binds her to Him ; if 
she only desire to produce a rich harvest of virtues and 
good works ; if she only return to Him the fruit of a faith 
ful and immaculate connection, and fear -nothing more 
than to dishonor and enrage Him by the wicked brood of 
sin, which springs up from the seed sown by the devil ! 
As long as it produces good and holy fruit, it is the honor 
and pride of the Divine Spouse and the joy of His whole 
empire. But the more shameful and detestable would be the 
conduct of this soul, if from its royal bosom it brought forth 
a poisonous brood of vipers and, by deeds of darkness and 
by dishonorable union with the prince of darkness, defiled 
the pure bridal-chamber of its heavenly Spouse. 

Grace makes the Soul a Spouse of God. 1 8 1 

What a salutary awe must this comparison between vir 
tue and sin, between the works of light and those of dark 
ness, inspire in a Christian soul ! Filled with dread to 
disgrace yourself and your heavenly Spouse, and to be 
visited by His terrible anger, you will avoid all sin, and 
with holy zeal desire nothing more ardently than to pre 
sent Him with new and beautiful fruits of heavenly virtue 
and thus evermore to honor and strengthen the holy union 
with Him. 

Queens recognize in their children the supports of their 
marriage-tie, the pride of their maternity, the ornament of 
their glory, and the best and most secure pledge of royal 
love and favor. Yet this is far more true of the espousal 
of the soul to God, as in it the soul is not exhausted by 
frequent birth, nor loses in strength and beauty, but rather 
grows ever stronger by the birth of holy works, ever more 
fruitful by the number of its children, ever stronger, more 
beautiful and pleasing to God by nursing them. For thus 
the prophet Isaias * speaks of it: " Then shall thy light 
break forth as the morning., and thy health shall speedily arise, 
and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the 

Lord shall gather thce up then shall thy light rise up 

in darkness and thy darkness shall be as the noonday ; and 
the Lord will give thee rest continually, and will fill thy 
soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones; and thou shalt 
be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water, 
ivhose waters shall not fail." 

6. If the soul is not only espoused by grace to its heav 
enly Beloved, but by its fecundity makes itself worthy of 
Him and enters into ever closer connection with Him, 
then He already in this life unites Himself so intimately 
with it, fills the mind with a light so sublime and entirely 
unknown to the senses, and grants the will such a delight 
ful perception of His Divine presence, that all the faculties 
of the soul enjoy the goodness, beauty, and sweetness of 
God, and the soul, overwhelmed with the radiance of an 

1 Is. Iviii. 8-11. 

182 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

ever-increasing beauty, and a stream of heavenly de 
light, exclaims with the spouse in the Canticle of Can 
ticles : " Sliow me Tliy face; let Thy voice sound in my 
ears; for Thy voice is sweet, and Thy face comely." It is 
converted into a new paradise, full of delight and happi 
ness, of which, as St. Ephrem beautifully explains, the 
ancient, material paradise was but a weak image. For if 
God has made the bodily aliment and fruitfulness so beau 
tiful and delicious, because it is necessary for the main 
tenance of life and of the human race, how much sweeter 
and lovelier will He render the life of virtue, the heavenly 
love and fruitfulness of His spouse, that she may adhere to 
Him joyfully and with her whole heart and soul ! 

Well, then, Christian soul, do not hesitate a moment to 
surrender yourself entirely to your Divine Beloved and to 
enter into His delights. "Hearken, daughter," so the 
Psalmist tells you, 2 " hearken and see, and incline thy ear ; 
and forget thy people and thy father s house, and the King 
shall greatly desire thy beauty : for He is the Lord thy God." 
Yes, it is the Lord your God who descends to you, to in 
troduce you into His Heaven, who knocks at the door of 
your heart with ardent desire, and is so condescending as 
to beg of you to open your heart to Him. Do not with 
draw from Him, that you may not at the same time with 
draw from yourself His great honor and happiness. En 
deavor to be His pride and His joy. and He will make you 
the pride of Heaven for all eternity; at His heart He will 
suffer you to drink in the ineffable, mysterious fountain of 
His Divine love and to reign and govern with Him upon 
His Divine throne. 

And to maintain this holy fidelity to your heavenly Be 
trothed, consider frequently the beautiful words which 
St. Agnes, the spouse of Jesus, faithful unto death, spoke 
to her intended seducers: " Already another lover has 
taken possession of me; I am espoused to Him whom the 
angels serve, whose beauty the sun and moon admire, 

1 Cant, of Cant. ii. 1-1. 2 Ps. xliv. 11, 12- 

Grace makes the Soul a Spouse of God. 183 

whose Mother is a virgin, whose Father knows no wife. 
My right hand and my neck He has surrounded with pre 
cious stones, my ears He has adorned with inestimable 
pearls. With the ring of His fidelity He has united Him 
self to me and has adorned me with innumerable jewels. 
His body is already united to my body, milk and honey 
have I received from His mouth, and His blood has red 
dened my cheeks. If I love Him, I am chaste, if I touch 
Him I am pure, if I accept Him I am a virgin. To Him 
shall I remain faithful, I devote and intrust myself entirely 
to Him." 


By Grace we Participate in the Empire of God 
and His Dominion over All Things. 


S grace makes our soul a spouse of God, the King 
of Heaven and earth, so it elevates the same to 
be queen over all things, because, as God says to 
His Son, so He says to the spouse of His Son: " All I have 
is thine." If God, says the Apostle, 1 "spared not even His 
own Son, but delivered Him up for us, hath He not also, with 
Him, given us all things ? }> We may likewise say, in gen 
eral, at least: If God by grace makes us partakers of His 
Divine nature, and gives us His own Divine being for our 
possession and enjoyment, will He not also present and 
subject all other things to us ? Certainly, for this precisely 
follows from all the properties of grace that we have 
hitherto considered. 

In the first place the dignity of a true spouse of God 
gives our soul likewise most clearly and evidently the right 
to the sovereignty over all things; for the spouse of the 
king is queen, she possesses the same throne, the same crown 
as the king, and is honored by all subjects as well as he. 
But aside from this, grace makes us true friends of God 
and it is the first law of friendship that friends divide 
their possessions and hold everything in common. If this is 
rarely or never carried out among men, it only shows that 
human friendship is imperfect and inclosed within narrow 
limits; the friendship of God, however, knows no limit, and 
rests and is satisfied only when there is nothing more to 
divide and communicate. 

1 Rom. viii. . JO. 

Participation in the Empire of God. 185 

Moreover, by grace we are true children of God, and con 
sequently His heirs and the co-heirs of Christ. "What is 
there in Heaven or on earth, or beneath the earth," says 
St. Anselm, " that must not obey and be subject to those 
whom the Lord of all things has elected as His friends and 
adopted as His children ? " 

All material creatures have, therefore, been creat 
ed for the use of man, because he, by nature, bears in his 
soul the image of God. How much more will not only 
they, but even all rational creatures, that are without 
grace, be subject to him, who, as partaker of the Divine 
nature, has been elevated infinitely above them? As man 
is the crown and glory of the earth, so the soul in the state 
of grace is the crown and the glory of Heaven and earth, of 
the entire creation. The Holy Scriptures say of the only- 
begotten Son of God, that all things were created for His 
sake, and all things in Heaven and on earth are destined 
for His honor and glory. But the adoptive children of God 
are, in a certain sense, one with Him; they reign with Him 
in the bosom of His heavenly Father and enjoy His undi 
vided love and tenderness. They are, then, likewise, with 
the Son of God, the highest end and destiny of creation. 

They are those, finally, who, by the supernatural strength 
of grace, despise all created things and rise above them, 
who battle with the world and conquer it. But if the 
world is conquered by them, then it must also serve and 
be subject to their dominion; and Christ Himself says: 
" To him that sliall overcome (the world) / will give to sit 
with Me in my throne : as I also have overcome, and am 
set doivn with my Father in His throne, 1 and I will give him 
a hidden manna . . . and a new name."* 

2. True, in this life men in a state of grace have not the 
full enjoyment of their dominion and often seem to be the 
poorest and most desolate. But who would have recog 
nized the King of the universe in the suffering Jesus, seek 
ing in vain a shelter at Bethlehem? Who would have re- 

1 Apoc.Hl. 21. 2 Ibid, ii- 17. 

1 86 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

cognized in the poor and indigent Virgin of Nazareth, 
when considering her humble cottage, the queen of all 
creation? Who would have considered the poor beggar 
Lazarus greater and richer than King Herod or the 
Emperor Tiberius ? Truth is often veiled from our eyes; 
we must estimate it by faith, and by the Divine light. 
"As long as the heir is a child," says the Apostle, * that is, 
as long as he lives in this valley of exile, " he cliff ereth 
nothing from a servant, though he he lord of all." He 
himself is not conscious of his rights or riches, nor is he 
acknowledged as lord by men. But when he shall have 
entered the kingdom of his father, then his glory will be 
revealed, and the world will be confounded to behold, 
how the one who was the object of their greatest con 
tempt secures the possession of all its riches, to enjoy 
them for all eternity. 

It by no means follows from this that the Christian may 
already claim all the things of this world for himself, 
or may seize the property of any one, especially of the sin 
ner. This is not the will of God. God, on the contrary, 
has so ordained it that every man on earth may acquire 
and possess property, and therefore His children, above all 
others, should religiously respect and maintain this right. 
Yea, they should despise the goods of this world, set them 
aside, and seek first the kingdom of God in the firm hope 
that, according to the words of our Saviour, all things will 
bo added unto them. Besides, the things of this earth are 
too poor and miserable to be worthy of the love and desire 
of the children of God. Then only, when all creation, in 
the words of the Apostle, shall be delivered from the ser 
vitude of corruption and glorified by a heavenly light, 
when the new Heaven shall have descended upon earth and 
transformed it into a new Heaven and a glorious city of 
God then only will creation be a worthy dwelling-place of 
the children of God, then they shall possess it and in it en 
joy the glory of God. 

i Gal. iv. 1. 

Participation in the Empire of God. 1 8 7 

But even now no barrier of proprietary rights can pro 
hibit the children of God from the highest and truest enjoy 
ment of creation. Though the rich accumulate lifeless 
gold and shining silks in their palaces and wardrobes ; 
though they alone be able to purchase works of art for 
large sums of money ; though they call fields and meadows 
their own and reap the fruits therefrom to convert them into 
money or to feed and delight their bodies, they can never 
withhold grand and glorious nature from even the poorest 
child. Even the poorest may step forth from his poor cot 
tage, and everything great and beautiful that his eye be 
holds about him he may call his own, because it is a work 
of his heavenly Father. In every flower of the field, in 
every tree, he recognizes the image of his God s beauty, 
who has presented it to him as a token of His love. All 
living beings that inhabit the earth in such manifold di 
versity proclaim to him the power and love of his heavenly 
Father. He appreciates the true loveliness of all beauty, 
the true sweetness of all melodies of the birds in the air ; 
and thus he may call all things his own, because he can 
truly enjoy them. 

The wealth of the child of God is not confined to 
earth ; he may raise his eyes to Heaven, consider the 
glorious splendor of the sun and of the stars, be absorbed 
in the contemplation of their immense space and distances, 
and exclaim with St. Ignatius : " How inferior does this 
earth appear, when I glance at the heavens ! " What de 
light must fill his heart to think that the countless lumin 
ous bodies, before which the whole earth, to say nothing of 
the wealth of a prince, appear as nothing, that they all 
are his own, are destined for his joy and glory, and that 
hereafter he shall throne with them, whilst all the wealth 
of this world is limited to a small earthly space ! 

Moreover, earthly wealth gives no man the power to con 
trol nature in the proper and full sense, and to make it 
subject to his desires. ^ But in the case of many of His par 
ticularly beloved children, God has shown that grace can 

1 88 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

give us a complete and unconditional power over living and 
lifeless things. The poor St. Francis, as often as he 
wished, called the birds of the air, and commanded them 
to sing the praises of God and delight him with their melo 
dies, as long as he pleased. In the same manner St. 
Anthony of Padua one day, when the people would not 
listen to his sermons, standing on the seashore called a 
countless number of fish, who, obedient to his command, 
gathered together from all sides. 

And we all should possess this dominion, as Adam pos 
sessed it in Paradise, if we had not in him lost original 
grace. Now we are to receive it again only in the future 
life, where all consequences of original sin will be removed. 
But since it is grace which merits for us heavenly glory 
and the gifts connected with it, it is always true that the 
grace of God makes us the lords over all things in the 
fullest sense of the word. 

Even the privations that we must suffer in this life are 
by grace converted into heavenly riches. " To them that 
love God," says the Apostle, 1 "all things work unto good." 
All that we want or give up for the sake of God and as 
His children, will be returned to us a hundred-fold, accord 
ing to the promise of the Redeemer. As often again as we, 
either of our own free will, or by the ordinance of God, are 
deprived of anything, we resign, as it were, the right by 
which everything belongs to us, as children of God, and 
God Himself accepts it, as if we, out of filial love, had given 
Him something that belonged to us. Thus the earfhly 
riches belong to us most when we renounce them, or 
according to God s wise Providence, do not possess or 
enjoy them ; for then we dispose of them, as God Him 
self does ; we return them to God when we acknowledge 
the property of other men according to His law. 

Oh, how rich Avould we feel in all our poverty, how happy 
in all our misery, if in lively faith and according to the 
laws of eternal truth, we considered ourselves the kings of 

1 Rom. viii. 28. 

Participation in the Empire of God. 1 89 

this world ! Far from coveting our neighbor s goods, we 
should gladly content ourselves with our small possessions 
and even with the greatest poverty, since we know that in 
time all will be delivered unto us, and that now no one can 
possess and enjoy to his heart s satisfaction. Yea, we 
should gladly renounce temporal enjoyment and possession, 
lest this attracted our heart too much and thus rendered us 
unworthy of eternal possession. 


The Exceedingly Intimate Union with God, which 
Grace Effects in Us. 


E have hitherto sought to explain the wonderful 
and mysterious union with God, the effect of 
grace, by comparison with the diverse bonds 
of union and attachment among men, and have always 
found that they all are incomparably less perfect and in 
timate than it. But we would conceal the sweetest and 
most sublime mystery, if we did not add that grace unites 
us to God by a higher and very peculiar kind of unity, 
since it causes us, in a very true and deep sense, to grow 
together into one being, one body, one spirit with Him. 

All relations between father and son, husband and wife, 
are relations of kinship and mutual alliance only, not 
a real, permanent, and perfect union of the body ; the 
relation of one friend to another is only a relation of mu 
tual love and sentiment, not a real union of spirits. And 
indeed, the unity of two created human persons cannot be 
more intimate, since both, being finite and limited, cannot 
interpenetrate each other. God, however, in His infinite 
unity and perfection, can so unite Himself to angels and 
men, as the fire is united to the body, heated and illumin 
ated by it, as the soul is united to the body, which is vivified 
by it. The creature, without ceasing to be distinct from 
God, is made one with Him in a singular manner, as in 
man, soul and body, the head and members are one. This 
is the full and entire meaning of the Apostle, when he 
says: 1 "He who is joined fo the LunL / * nnc spirit" one 

1 I. Cor. vi. 17. 

Grace Unites us Intimately with God. 191 

spirit not only in the unity of sentiment and affection, but 
in the unity of life and being. This is that sublime unity 
to which the Son of God referred when He prayed to His 
Father after the Last Supper : "The glory which Thou hast 
given Me, I have given to them ; that they may be one, as we 
also are one ; I in them, and Thou in Me ; that they may 
be made perfect in one ; " l and just before He had prayed to 
the Father for the same unity in the words : " Not for them 
only do I pray, hut for those also, who through their word 
shall believe in Me : that they may be all one, as Thou, Fath 
er, in Me, and I in Thee ; that they also may be one in us ; 
that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." 2 The 
ineffable unity of nature and being, which God the Son has 
with the Father, is, according to His express and oft-re 
peated teaching, the true type and the foundation of our 
unity with God. But the Son is not only kindred or similar 
to the Father, but is one with Him, as the branch is one with 
the tree, the ray of light with the light itself, the brook 
with the fountain. So we too shall be one with God, if not 
in the same perfect, at least in a similar manner, not 
only by relationship or similarity, but by so intimate a 
union, that we form, as it were, one being with God. 

For a better explanation of this, St. Cyril of Alexandria 
teaches, that after the image of the unity which exists 
in the Blessed Trinity, we are to enjoy a twofold, true, and 
real unity with God, of which the one represents and 
brings with it the other ; viz., the unity of the Spirit with 
the Son of God in His Divine nature, and the unity of body 
with Him in His human nature. In His human nature 
the Son of God unites us in truth, and not only in imagina 
tion or affection, but in reality unites us in one mystical 
body, of which He is the head, and in the same manner 
He will make our soul one spirit with His Divinity. 

2. Let us, then, first consider our union with the sacred 
humanity of Christ, and let us hear upon this subject 
St. Chrysostom : " ( We being many, are one bread, one 

1 John xvii. 22, 23. 2 Ibid. 20-21. 

1 92 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

body, says the Apostle. Why do I still speak of a partici 
pation of union ? We are ourselves the body of Christ. 
For what is the bread upon the altar ? The body of 
Christ. And what do they become, that receive it ? The 
body of Christ ; not many bodies, but one body. As the 
bread is a whole composed of many grains, and the separate 
grains nowhere appear, and in their union do not show 
the distinction, though they continue to exist, so we are 
united amongst ourselves and with Christ. For you are 
not nourished by one body, and another one by another 
body, but all by the same body. And therefore the Apostle 
adds: We all are partakers of the same bread ; but of this 
we all are made one body." 

St. Cyril himself, however, explains his idea in the fol 
lowing manner : " Let some one tell us the virtue and sig 
nificance of the mystical sacrament. For what reason is 
it inserted in us ? Is it not for the purpose that it may 
cause Christ to live in reality in us by the reception and 
the communion of His sacred body ? For St. Paul writes : z 
The Gentiles should be fellow -heirs and of the same body 
and co-partners in Clirist Jesus. But how are they of 
the same body ? By being honored with the reception of 
the Holy Sacrament, they are made one body with Him, 
as each one of the holy Apostles. For with what other 
reason has the Apostle called his own members, or rather 
those of all Christians, members of Christ ? Know you 
not, that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall /, 
then, take the members of Christ, and make them the members 
of a harlot ? 3 And our Saviour Himself says : He that 
eateth My flesh anddrinketh My blood, abideth in Me and I in 
Him. Here it is of importance to notice that Christ will 
be in us, according to His own words, not merely by a cer 
tain relation of love, or a certain feeling, but by a real union. 
For as two pieces of wax, placed and molten together, are 
made one whole, so we are united to Christ by the reception 
of His body and blood and He at the same time with us." 

1 I. Cor. x. 17. 2 Eph. iii. 6. 3 I. Cor vi. 15. 

Grace Unites MS Intimately with God. 193 

The natural bread is also united with the body of him. 
that partakes of it. But since it is a dead and perishable 
bread, it cannot convert the bodies of the partakers into 
its own substance and unite them with itself into one body. 
The body of Christ, however,, is one living, undivided, im 
perishable bread, and, therefore, it unites with itself the 
bodies of those who receive it, makes them its members, 
.and fills them with the plenitude of Divine life. It nour 
ishes us, as the vine feeds with its sap the branches united 
with it, penetrates and vivifies them with its own vitality. 
And so the same union exists between us and Christ, mys 
tically and supernaturally, that exists between the head 
and members, between the trunk and the branches. 

3. Now, the union of our body with the body of Christ 
is only the means and the figure of that union which 
grace establishes between our soul and the Divinity. We 
are made one spirit with God, as truly and really as the 
body of which Christ is the Head must be vivified by the 
same Spirit in whom the Son of God lives. 

Let this also be explained by St. Cyril : " Of the spir 
itual unity, however, we will, following the same course, say, 
that we all are in a certain manner mixed with each other 
and united to one whole by receiving the same Holy Spirit. 
For although, taken singly, we are many, and Christ 
inserts His and His Father s Spirit into the heart of each, 
yet this Spirit is one and indivisible, and, therefore, so 
unites the spirits of men which are separate in themselves, 
that in Him they all appear as one spirit. For as the 
power of the body of Christ renders all those who receive 
it one body, so the Spirit of God, in the same manner,, by 
His indwelling, leads all to this spiritual unity. There 
fore, St. Paul tells us : Support one another in charity, 
careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of 
peace; one body, and one spirit, as you are called in one 
hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 
one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, 
and in us all. For, if the one Spirit dwells in us, the 

194 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Father of all will be in us, and as God will, through His 
Son, unite those that partake of the same Holy Spirit." 

We are, then, truly made one spirit with God, not as if 
the substance of our soul ceased to exist, but because it is 
so intimately united with God, as if in a certain manner it 
formed one whole. In the human body, too, the members 
are substantially distinct from the head, and the soul from 
the body. Yet they are really one, because they form a 
whole, and cannot exist separate. We are made one with 
God, because, in the words of the Saviour, we abide in Him 
and He in us. As the iron is in the fire, and the fire in 
it, as the fire entirely absorbs the iron and consumes it, as 
it were, so that they no longer appear to be distinct, so the 
fire of the Divinity penetrates our soul, and receives it so 
entirely, that it seems to be God Himself. 

4. This explains more fully, and throws still more light up 
on what we have said in the first book of the deification of the 
soul. There it was remarked that our soul was deified by a 
supernatural similarity with God; here we add to this similar 
ity the mystical union with God, which is inseparable from it. 

The deification of the creature in its entirety consists 
not only in the greatest possible similarity with God, but 
also in an exceedingly intimate union with Him. For as 
the creature, by rising above itself to God, receives a dei- 
form condition and loses its imperfections, so in the super 
natural union with God, it casts off its natural solitariness* 
and self-dependence, to exist no longer in itself and for 
itself, but in God and for God. Thus we distinguish in 
the sacred humanity of Christ a twofold deification : the 
one consists in its personal union with the Eternal Word, 
the other in its glorification by the communication of 
Divine grace and splendor. True, we are not united to 
one person with God so perfectly as the humanity of Christ, 
but nevertheless this union is so intimate, that supernat- 
urally we really exist in God and for God, and that this 
union can find its model only in the union that exists 
between the Divinity and humanity in Christ. 

Grace Unites us Intimately with God. \ 95 

Moreover,, the deification of the soul by similarity with 
God pre-supposes the deification by union, and is attend 
ant upon it. For as the branch is similar to the vine and 
partakes of its life only because it is of the vine, and forms 
one whole with it, so we are made perfectly similar to God 
and partakers of His life, only by being received supernat- 
u rally into His bosom, and forming one whole with it. 
But as the branch is completely taken up by the tree, and 
exists no longer in itself and for itself, but belongs to 
the tree, so we, in a manner, are absorbed in God, existing 
no longer for ourselves, but for Him and in Him ; it is no 
longer we who live, but it is God, who exists and lives in us. 
Thus that great mystery is prepared- and begun in us, 
which, according to the words of the Apostle, will form the 
highest perfection of created nature, that God will le all 
in all. God is all in us, not only because He has created 
us, not only because our whole nature and being is depend 
ent on Him, not only because we are His, as the work of 
His hands, and reveal His glory, but because He has 
drawn us entirely into Himself, and poured Himself out 
in us, because He absorbs us, and unites us to Himself as a 
drop of water is dissolved by a stream of wine, because He 
has, as it were, inserted us in Himself, and bears us in His 
bosom as His only-begotten Son, with whom He is per 
fectly one. 

Let us not fear to lose ourselves in this ineffable union 
with God. "We are lost in an unfathomable abyss, but an 
abyss not of annihilation and darkness, but of the great 
est glory and happiness. We lose ourselves to find our 
selves again in G-od, or rather to find God Himself, with 
His whole glory and beatitude. For the more we are God s 
the more He is ours ; the more we live in Him and for 
Him, the more He lives in us, and for us. Is the branch 
lost when it is ingrafted upon a superior tree and im 
bibes the same life from the same root, whilst, separated 
from it and left to itself, it would either wither, or as a 
wild tree wear out a stunted life ? It can now not only 

196 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

boast of the life which it draws from the tree, but of the 
life and perfection which the root and trunk possess for 
themselves. So may we, united to God by grace, not only 
derive for our portion a ray of Divine glory, a small 
stream of Divine life, and direct it into our soul, but may 
consider the Divine Sun itself, the fountain of Divine life, 
as our own, and rejoice at the perfections of God, as if 
they were ours. Hence, by the very fact that we are 
deified in a twofold manner, we also partake in a twofold 
manner of the Divine beatitude ; first by beholding the 
beauty and bliss of God, as He Himself beholds and 
enjoys it, and again, by possessing this glory and bliss in 
a similar manner by grace and calling it our own, as God 
possesses it and calls it His own in virtue of His nature. 

5. Is not that, Christian reader, the highest degree of 
sublime dignity to which the almighty grace of God can 
elevate man ? Can human reason comprehend the honor 
conferred upon us, when we are made one body w r ith 
Christ, one spirit with God ? Can the human heart bear 
the transporting delight, when it learns that its members 
are members of Christ, that its spirit is melted together 
with the Divine Spirit ? 

And with what love towards God should we be inflamed, 
when we behold ourselves so intimately united to Him ! 
Though the love be great which unites persons by likeness 
or kindred, that love is undoubtedly greater and more in 
timate which unites, with indissoluble ties, the different 
parts that form a whole, as the head and members, the 
soul and body. Tor in such a case there exists, as the 
Apostle explains so beautifully, 1 the most intimate and in 
divisible unity and communion : "All members are mu 
tually careful one for another. And if one member suffer 
any thing, all tlie members suffer with it : or if one member 
glory, all tlie members rejoice with it," since each loves 
itself in the others, and the others in itself. How, then, 
should we not love Christ, whose body and members we 

1 I. Cor. xii. 25, 26. 

Grace Unites us Intimately with God. 197 

are, who is the Head infinitely more dignified and beatifying 
than that of our body ! How ought we not to love the Holy 
Ghost, who vivifies our soul more than it does our body ! 

The soul is rendered so dear to the body by the intimate 
and living union with Him, that both separate in death 
only with the greatest pains, though the soul does not 
raise the body above the defects of its nature. But as the 
union with God deifies the soul, and immerses it entirely in 
the ocean of Divine glory and happiness, and as a union of 
spirit to spirit is far more intimate than that of the soul 
with the body, must it not bind us to God with even 
stronger ties ? Must we not endeavor to preserve it with 
greater care and trouble and be unspeakably grieved if not 
external violence, but our own will divides and destroys 
this union with the sword of sin ? 

If a spirit, created outside of the body, and perfect in 
every respect, would of its own accord, and out of pure com 
passion, unite itself to a body that lay lifeless and exposed 
to decay, in order to be made one with it, to give it life 
and motion and preserve it from impending dissolution, 
with how much love and gratitude ought this body, if it 
were capable of acknowledging the benefit, to embrace the 
spirit ! But what were the condescension of this spirit, 
compared to the mercy that God shows us, when He Him 
self enters our naked, helpless, and miserable soul, and 
speaks in its hearing the blessed word, "live," which in a 
moment produces in it a blissful beauty and immortality ? 
Yet, where is our gratitude that we exhibit in turn where 
our love, by which we reward Him ? Where may we find 
a thousand tongues and hearts to praise and love so merci 
ful a Father ? 

Since we are one body with Christ, and one spirit with 
God, and we abide in God and He in us, we should also 
live in God and let Him live and act in us, that we may 
say with the Apostle : Hive, now not /, but Christ liv- 
ethinme." 1 For all members of the body live from the 

1 Gal. ii. 20. 

198 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

life of the head, and the heart lives from the life of the 
soul, that is one with it. The Divine heart of Jesus 
Christ, from which courses the vivifying sap of the precious 
blood through His sacred body, and which contains in it 
self the plenitude of the Holy Spirit and of Divine life, is 
the hearth and the fountain likewise for His whole mysti 
cal body, that we may all be one heart and one soul with 
Him. As the single members have not each a heart of 
their own, but all draw the vital fluid from one heart, so 
we should give up our own heart, immerse it in the Di 
vine heart of Jesus, and weld it to Him, that it may beat 
and act only in Him, seek its nourishment in Him, live 
from Him and in Him. 

Oh, what a heavenly life will then be developed in our 
heart, if it dies to itself, is absorbed by the Divine heart of 
Jesus, and feels no longer its own pulsation and impulses, 
but those of God ; when that happens to us in a mystical, 
yet on that account, very real manner, what our Saviour 
has miraculously revealed to several of His saints, namely, 
that He took their heart out of their breast, and placed 
His own in its stead ! 

We esteem ourselves happy when we possess and may 
preserve the heart of a dear friend, of a great man, or of a 
saint, after his death ; overjoyed we should be, if we 
might carry it with us, not dead, but alive, and might 
receive it into our breast, into our own heart. And 
should we not ardently desire to introduce into our breast the 
Divine heart of Jesus, which will communicate its own life 
to us, and to let it take the place of our poor and mis 
erable heart, which only exhausts itself by its beating 
and must soon fall to dust ? How can our heart object to 
this union and transformation, and prefer its own miser 
able life to the Divine life ? Oh, Jesus, tear my heart 
away from itself with holy force, though it suffer and 
bleed ever so much, that it may not hate Thee by perverse 
love of itself and that it may love itself so truly and recov 
er itself in Thoo ! Soften its hardness by the fire of Thv 

Grace Unites us Intimately with God. 199 

heart, that it may be melted into it, and as molten wax re 
ceives the seal, may receive the impress of Thine image ! 

6. The union with God and Christ by grace, moreover, 
has that sublime advantage, that we are made one body and 
one spirit, not only with Christ and God Himself, but with 
the saints and just persons. These all are likewise one 
body with Christ, and one spirit with God ; with them we 
form one great body, of which Christ is the Head, and 
which is vivified by the Spirit of God. " One body, one 
Spirit," says the Apostle. " We being many, are one body 
in Christ, and every one members one of another." 
" There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond 
nor free, there is neither male nor female ; for you are 
all one in Christ Jesus." Here all distinctions of per 
sons that exist among men disappear, for all are melted 
together into one great whole, as the grains of wheat in 
the bread. Even the great distinction of nature, which 
separates us from the angels, is lost sight of, for we, as 
well as they, are made one spirit with God, and in our 
body, by which we are inferior to them, we are made one 
body with Christ. 

With this union in God we should also represent among 
ourselves the exceedingly intimate union which unites 
God the Father with the Son in the Holy Ghost. The 
same Holy Spirit, which, according to St. Augustine, is the 
bond of union between the Father and the Son, likewise 
embraces us all and unites us very intimately with each 
other, as the soul unites the different members of the body. 
As a golden chain, He links us to God and Christ, but 
likewise with all the choirs of the blessed spirits, with the 
band of apostles, and the legions of all holy martyrs, con 
fessors, and virgins. In Him we all cohere, penetrate each 
other, and belong one to another. 

What a happiness to belong to this immense, intimate 
communion of saints and in it to possess, conjointly with 
the countless number of saints, their glory and happiness ! 

1 Eph. iv. 4. 2 Rom. xii. 5. 3 Gal. iii. 28. 

2oo The Glories of Divine Grace. 

For though each member of a body have its peculiar qual 
ities, yet these,, in virtue of its union with the body, belong 
likewise to the whole body, and to all other members. 
Thus we may rejoice at the wisdom of the Cherubs, the 
burning love of the Seraphs, the dignity of the apostles, 
the fortitude of the martyrs, the gift of foreknowledge 
possessed by the prophets, the miracles of the confessors, 
the purity of the virgins we may boast of all this as if it 
were our own, because all proceeds from the same Spirit, 
who also dwells in us, and belongs to us also as members of 
the same body. If, therefore, the possession of the body of 
one saint is so dear to us, how dear and cherished ought 
we to hold this living, intimate union and association in the 
Spirit of God. 

But how much are they also to be pitied, who by a blind 
and perverse passion suffer themselves to be separated 
from this so honorable, dignified, amiable, and sweet society, 
to unite with the enemies of God, the outcasts of mankind, 
and the inhabitants of hell ! deep and unhappy fall ! 
They were precious rings on the hand of God, from which 
they received their dignity and splendor, and now they have 
cast themselves into the deepest filth and mire. They were 
artistically and Divinely-wrought links in the golden chain 
of saints, and by their union with the other parts enhanced 
their own beauty and value ; and now they are fettered to 
one chain with the fratricide Cain and the traitor Judas ; 
they were precious jewels in the crown that adorns the 
head of God, and now they are the prey of the devil, who 
has defiled and polluted them and inserted them in his 
terrible crown of victory. 

Let us not be so cruel to ourselves as to sever our soul 
from grace and from the communion of saints by a mor 
tal sin, but rather endeavor to mantain this union at any 
price. Let us use every endeavor " to keep the unity of 
the Spirit in the bond of peace," as the Apostle ex 
horts us. Let us thus represent among ourselves that 

1 Kpli. iv.3. 

Grace Unites us Intimately with God. 201 

sublime unity which the Son possesses with His Father. 
Let us unite ourselves ever more closely with God and His 
saints, that we may always become more and more worthy 
of their society, and that the tie which binds them to us 
may be drawn closer each day. Let us love our neighbor 
as ourselves, in God and Christ, as a member of the same 
body, and strive to unite him also more closely to Christ, our 
Head, to the Holy Spirit, and thus also to ourselves. In 
this manner we shall co-operate in the great work which is 
the end of all creation, namely, that, as the Apostle says, 
God may be all in all, and that we may enjoy that unspeak 
able happiness which the perfect unity with God and the 
saints alone can give us. 

For by this unity the joy which we shall experience in 
the beatific vision in Heaven is multiplied manifold and in 
finitely increased. Hear St. Anselm, how in holy ecstasy he 
describes this : " Human heart," says he, "poor heart that 
suffers so many tribulations, aye, is inundated with suffer 
ings, how would you rejoice, if you possessed all things that 
are prepared for you in Heaven ! Ask your innermost self 
whether it could comprehend its joy at such great happi 
ness. Yet, certainly, if another, whom you loved as your 
self, possessed the same happiness as you, your joy would 
be doubled, as you rejoice no less at his fortune than at 
your own. But if two or three or many more enjoyed the 
same good fortune, you would rejoice for each individu 
ally, as much as for yourself, if you loved each of them as 
yourself. In that perfect love, then, of numberless angels 
and saints, where one loves another no less than himself, ev 
ery one will rejoice for all others individually as much as for 
himself. If the heart of man cannot comprehend the joy of 
so great a good, how will it be wide enough for so many and 
so great joys ? And indeed, since each rejoices as much 
at the fortune of another as he loves him, they all, loving 
God in that perfect happiness, incomparably more than 
themselves and all others, will also rejoice more at the 
happiness of God than at their own and that of all others 

202 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

with them. But if they so love God with their whole 
heart,, their whole soul, and their whole mind, that never 
theless the whole heart, the whole mind, and the whole 
soul will not satisfy the worthiness and dignity of the love, 
they will certainly so rejoice with their whole heart, their 
whole mind, their whole soul, that the whole heart, mind, 
and soul will not suffice for the fulness of joy. My Lord 
and my God, my Hope and the Joy of my heart, tell my 
soul whether this is the joy of which Thou didst say, 
through Thy Son : Ask and you shall receive ; that 
your joy may befitted. For I have found a joy that is 
full, and more than full. For if the heart, the mind, the 
soul, and the whole man is filled, a superabundance of joy 
will still remain. That joy, then, will not fully enter in the 
rejoicing, but the rejoicing will fully enter into the joy." 1 
Christian soul, if you read and consider these enchant 
ing words, must not your heart kindle with a burning de 
sire to enter into the communion of God and His saints ? 
Must it not be filled with an ardent gratitude to God, who, 
by His glorious grace, has destined you to such intimate 
and sublime union with Himself and His saints ? Oh, con 
sider this sweet truth very frequently, meditate upon it un 
ceasingly, and you will certainly not so frivolously lose the 
treasure of grace by a mortal sin. 

1 Prosl. cap. 25, 26. 

On the Effects and Fruits of Grace. 

Light, a Symbol of Grace. 


" the foregoing book we have considered the su 
pernatural and mysterious union with God which 
grace produces in us. We have seen that it 
makes us the living temple of the Holy Ghost and of the 
Blessed Trinity and produces a Divine life in our soul, con 
fers upon our soul, moreover., the unspeakably high dignity 
of a child, a friend, a spouse of God, appoints it with all 
corresponding privileges and qualities, and finally even 
makes us one body and one spirit with Christ and God. 
We must now proceed to examine more particularly the 
effects and fruits which grace produces in the soul. If 
until now every view taken of it has revealed to us new 
wonders and glories, we may rest assured that its wealth 
is inexhaustible and will hereafter still more attract and 
fascinate our attention and admiration. 

Yet we shall first endeavor to render all the foregoing 
and the following yet clearer, by representing, in imita 
tion of Holy Scripture and the holy Fathers, material light 
as an image of grace, as we have already represented it in 
some respects. 

2. As the material light is sometimes called the grace of 

204 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

the sun, so the holy Fathers call grace the light of God. 
The material sun, too, is the most sublime image of God 
Himself, who is for the spiritual world what the sun is 
for the material world. God is the Sun of justice and 
eternal truth, of the highest beauty and of infinite love, of 
the purest sanctity and most perfect beatitude : " God is 
light, and in Him there is no darkness," says St. John. * 

The Divine nature itself is purest light. But if by grace 
this nature is communicated to us, then grace must also be 
a light, a light streaming forth from the innermost being 
of God, that illumines our soul, glorifies it, and trans 
forms it from glory to glory into the image of God. And 
if God, because He is light Himself, is likewise, according 
to the words of St. James, " the Father of lights, " from 
whom cometh "every lest gift and every perfect gift," 
grace, as the best and perfect gift, is also the purest and 
sublimest of lights, whose Father is God. It is that light 
by which we are introduced into the inaccessible light of 
God, which reveals to us the glory of God in all its depth, 
and lets us behold it unveiled face to face. 

By grace we are born of the light of God and the fire of 
the Holy Ghost; we are made "children of light" and 
children of God, and are therefore also called light as God 
is called : " You were heretofore darkness, but now light in 
the Lord. " 3 Therefore St. Peter says to the souls in grace : 
" You are a chosen generation ; . . . that you may declare His 
virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into His mar 
vellous light. "* 

So strikingly true and so beautiful is the image of light, 
that we can scarcely speak of grace without calling it the 
light of grace, and the language of the Church therefore 
regularly uses this term. The Eoman Catechism cannot 
explain grace better for us than by saying : " It is, as it 
were, a brilliant light, that effaces all those stains ivhich 
obscure the lustre of the soul, and invests it with increased 
brightness and beauty," & and the holy Fathers call baptism, 

1 I. John i. 5. * James i. 17. n Eph. v. 8, 4 I. Peter ii. 9. De Capt. n. 59. 

Light, a Symbol of Grace. 205 

in which we are for the first time regenerated by grace, the 
Sacrament of Illumination, or simply the Illumination. 

Light is indeed, among all things that we perceive by 
the senses, the purest, most beautiful, lovely, and sublime ; 
and though by it we perceive all other things, it is itself so 
mysterious in nature and being, that no one has ever yet 
comprehended it, and we are able to say rather what it is 
not than what it is. Though it is in material bodies, it is 
in a manner spiritual, as it is limited to no place, pervades 
all space, penetrates and brings together the most remote 
bodies, and, as it were, vivifies all nature. In the same 
manner grace is something Divinely spiritual, an ema 
nation of the Divine nature and glory ; and as this nature, 
though present to all things and revealing itself in all, can 
not be fathomed in itself, so grace likewise is an unfath 
omable abyss of beauty and glory. 

3. If, then, material light is so rich in superior and 
glorious qualities, that we cannot find sufficient words 
to describe it, how much more praiseworthy and incom 
prehensible, then, must grace be in all its richness ! Light 
always was and is still studied with admiration by scien 
tists, and praised in the enraptured songs of poets : they 
call it the bloom of colors, the beauty of the world, the 
smile of Heaven, the joy of nature, the image of God, 
the life of all things, the delight of eye and soul, the en 
circling bond of the universe. Its first and principal 
praise, however, consists in its having been the first orna 
ment of the world in creation, which dispelled chaotic 
darkness and disorder on earth and was therefore praised 
by the Creator Himself as a great good. All the qualities, 
however, that render the natural light beautiful and 
grateful, are found in a far superior and more admirable 
degree in grace. 

Light gives life to the various colors, and without light 
they would be dead and nothing ; pearls could not be 
distinguished from ordinary pebbles, nor purple from com 
mon dye : so without grace all created spirits, the souls of 

2o6 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

men and the angels of Heaven, are shrouded in death 
like darkness ; they are, according to the expression of St. 
Augustine, still without figure and form, " they find no 
consideration with God," and are as if they were not, un 
til, enlivened by grace, they appear before the eye of God 
in beauteous form and splendid adornment. 

Light is an emanation from the most perfect body, the 
sun ; grace, however, is an emanation from the most per 
fect Spirit, the Divine spiritual Sun, which has created the 
material sun out of nothing and placed it in the heavens 
as a faint image of its glory. The material sun makes the 
planets, that are dark in themselves, bright stars ; but 
grace makes the souls in the spiritual heavens, spirit 
ual stars, that shine far more brilliantly than the mate 
rial stars, as the prophet Daniel says : They shall shine as 
stars for all eternity." Material light converts a pure 
mirror or a clear crystal into an image of the material sun, 
so that it appears as the sun itself ; grace, however, not 
only communicates to us the splendor of the Divine 
sun, but encircles us with it, as with a crown, and intro 
duces us into its innermost being. 

What is more beautiful, radiant, and bright than a mir 
ror, though by nature so fragile and worthless, when it 
suddenly receives and reflects the whole splendor of the 
sun ? Although we now little esteem the beauty of this 
phenomenon, being so accustomed to it, it would certainly 
delight our sense and mind if we could see it but once or 
twice. But the brilliancy of the mirror is scarcely a shad 
ow of the majesty of the soul, which receives with grace 
not only the image of God, but God Himself, and is filled and 
surrounded by all that is beautiful and glorious in Him. 

4. The following effects of light have at all times been 
mentioned as the most conspicuous : it penetrates, illu 
mines, heats, inflames, enlivens, expands, elevates, and 
pictures ; all these are likewise the effects of grace, but in 
an infinitely higher degree and larger measure. 

Pan. xii. 3. 

Light, a Symbol of Grace. 207 

Light penetrates and transforms the transparent bodies 
to which it is communicated. Every other ornament, as 
agreeable colors, gold, and jewelry, can adorn bodies only 
exteriorly, but cannot communicate brightness and beauty 
to the interior. So in the case of man : riches, honors, cor 
poral beauty, even the natural spiritual gifts, that distin 
guish one from another, as learning, and what is generally 
called education, all these are but exterior adornments, 
that touch but the surface, and not the innermost na 
ture of the soul. Grace, however, as a Divine light, pen 
etrates the soul in every direction, in all its parts and fac 
ulties, unto the deepest and innermost bottom of its being, 
and transforms it with heavenly beauty and Divine splendor. 

Light illumines the eye and fills it with images of exter 
nal things, regardless of their degree of proximity. It 
alone shows us the form and nature of those things whose 
impressions we receive through the other senses. It car 
ries our perception so far as no other sense can, far beyond 
the limits of the earth, into the most distant stars of the 
firmament. Grace does likewise. It illumines the eye of 
our soul, or rather grants it a new organ of vision by 
which it may behold a new world. By reason we only 
perceive the exterior side of truth ; we perceive by it only 
a reflex of eternal truth in the created world, only its ef 
fects and rays, but not this eternal truth itself in its inner 
most nature. The light of grace, however, causes us to 
see now by faith, but hereafter by vision, the invisible 
world in the bosom of God, from which this visible world 
was produced. lie sees the least reason of this visible 
world, and perceives truth itself in its substance. It intro 
duces us even into the bosom of God, into its inaccessible 
light, to let us look into the deepest mysteries of His 
heart, which only the Eternal Father and His only-be 
gotten Son, who dwells in His bosom, and the Holy 
Spirit, who searches the profound things of God, can, in 
virtue of their nature, behold. For by it God Himself 
shines, according to the words of the Apostle: "God, who 

208 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

commanded the light to sliine out of darkness, hath Himself 
shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the 
glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus." 

Light heats and inflames bodies, for in its essence it 
is one with heat, and when it is apparently without heat, 
it is only because of its imperfect communication. As 
with the material sun so with the Divine sun, light and 
heat are inseparably united and perfectly one ; from the 
light of the Father and the Son proceeds the fire of the 
Holy Ghost, the Divine flame of love. And so God kin 
dles in our hearts not only the light of faith, but by it 
also the grateful and blessed fire of His Divine love. 

The light of the sun calls forth and preserves life in all 
nature. When the sun during the night disappears for 
a short time, all life is dormant upon earth : the flower- 
cups close, the song of birds is hushed, all strength grows 
tired, and all life anxiously awaits the coming morn. If 
the sun retires in winter and but sparingly sheds its bless 
ings, then the life of plants decays altogether, field and 
meadow are converted into a bleak and barren desert, 
until returning spring brings new life with the full bless 
ing of the sun. Far more powerful is the action of grace 
in the soul. Without grace the soul possesses not even 
the germs of that heavenly life to which God has called 
us. But by grace it is converted into a magnificent para 
dise, that blooms in eternal spring, knows no night nor 
winter, always buds forth new blossoms, without withering 
the first, and by the brilliancy of its colors, and the fra 
grance of its flowers, enchants the eye and heart of God. 
We alone are in fault, if on account of our lukewarmness 
night sometimes reigns in us, or if perhaps even a cold 
winter withdraws from us the heat of Divine love. 

Light expands metals by its heat. Light expands the 
air and makes it elastic, until it extends ever more into 
the indefinite realms of space. But grace still more expands 
the narrow vessel of our soul, and renders it ever more ca- 

II, Cor. iv. 6, 

Light) a Symbol of Grace. 209 

pable of receiving new and greater treasures of grace, and 
an ocean of Divine happiness,, yet capable of containing, 
as a temple, the greatness and infiniteness of God, and 
embracing Him with the arms of its love. Grace infinitely 
expands and increases the elasticity of our soul, so that 
it extends its activity far beyond the limits of its natural 
abilities, desires and undertakes ever greater things, until 
the whole world is too narrow a field for its activity, and 
God alone in His infiniteness can fully satisfy it. 

The action of light elevates the warmed air from earth 
towards the heavens ; the action of light causes the plant 
to rise from the bosom of the earth, and turn itself towards 
the source of light, to bask in it, drink in its blissful rays, 
and unite with it. Grace likewise raises our soul to the 
Divine sun, and causes it to turn with ardent desire to 
wards this source of light. It even really unites the soul 
with God, transports it from earth to Heaven, and trans 
plants it into the bosom of the Divine Sun. 

Light, finally, pictures the truest forms. Under the in 
fluence of the sun plants express in themselves the true 
picture of the Creator s idea and plan of their nature and 
being. There is no truer and more lifelike picture of man 
than that which light exhibits of him in the mirror ; and 
even human art, with all the means at its disposal, cannot 
produce a more perfect picture than that which it causes to 
be reflected by light upon an artificially prepared plate. 
In a similar manner God cannot produce in us a more per 
fect picture of Himself, than by the light of grace. In 
nature He has fashioned His numerous and various images 
according to a certain measure, and therefore they are 
not perfect representations of Himself. By grace, how 
ever, the light of His nature streams into our soul as into 
a mirror, acts with its whole force, and thus produces not 
merely an outline or a sketch, but a complete, true, and 
living image of His being. 

5. We might thus go on illustrating the glories of grace 
by the properties of material light ; for it is the symbol of 

2 i o The Glories of Divine Grace. 

ever ything good and beautiful, of everything that is amia-, 
ble, mild, kind, meek, refreshing, blissful, pure, holy, and 
perfect, comforting, radiant, and glorious. And the more 
we delight in its countless beauties and admire them, the 
more will we be delighted by its ideal, invisible to the cor 
poreal eye, but visible to the eye of faith, especially when 
we see that the symbol and figure is infinitely inferior to 
its ideal. 

If, then, material light is so dear and precious to us, that 
we should consider its loss more dreadful almost than death, 
ought we not to entertain an infinitely greater esteem and 
love for the light of grace ? Tobias certainly found it a 
severe trial, when, as Holy Scripture relates, after the warm 
dung had fallen from the swallow s nest into his eye, he sat 
in darkness, and could no longer behold the light of Heaven. 
But is not he infinitely more miserable, who by a mortal 
sin is separated from the immortal light of God, cast into 
deepest spiritual darkness, gropes about without light, 
everywhere stumbles and falls, is precipitated into the most 
frightful abysses, and, repulsed from the sight of God, no 
where finds peace and joy ? Tobias in his bodily blindness 
preserved the light of grace, and could, therefore, endure 
the material darkness not only patiently but joyfully, con 
fident that his eyesight also would be restored by God, 
either on earth or at least in Heaven. The sinner, however, 
unless he is converted, has no hope ever again to receive the 
light of grace, and must fear that he will lose in the dark 
ness of hell even his natural sight, or if he retains it, that 
he will be permitted to see nothing but what redounds to 
his terror and sufferings. 

When St. Francis of Borgia once celebrated the holy 
mysteries in a city of Portugal, the sun was suddenly cov 
ered with such darkness that the stars could be seen in 
midday. All the inhabitants were so terrified that, sup 
posing the day of judgment to have come, they filled 
the whole city with cries and lamentations, left their 
houses, and as to a last place of refuge, fled to the church, 

LigJit, a Symbol of Grace. 211 

where they expected security from the protection of the 
saint. But when even there .they ceased not to weep and 
lament, St. Francis, after the Gospel, turned towards them 
and addressed them an eloquent discourse. He reminded 
them., that if this brief and not unusual eclipse of the cre 
ated sun caused them such alarm and terror, how care 
fully and zealously they ought to endeavor to prevent the 
splendor of the Divine Sun from forever disappearing from 
them ; that they were, however, deprived of this true 
heavenly light by every mortal sin, and that the consequent 
evils were indeed inestimable and indescribable. 

We ourselves notice, during an eclipse, how all nature is 
terrified, the birds fly about uneasily, animals seek a safe 
retreat, and we should likewise be seized with nameless ter 
ror, if we did not know that the sun is not extinct, but 
only hidden, and will soon again shine in full splendor. 
Oh, that we too were terrified at the mere idea of closing 
our heart by a mortal sin against the sun of grace, and 
perhaps of extinguishing its light in us forever and with 
out the possibility of ever beholding it again ! 

6. That we may, however, always preserve in us the heav 
enly light of grace, and render ourselves ever more access 
ible to it, we must cleanse our soul from all filth and un- 
cleanness. As little as light can be reflected by a mirror 
that is not smooth and pure, or a body may be rendered 
translucent when it is dark and opaque, so little can grace 
penetrate and fill a soul that is not cleansed from the 
filth of sin, and open to its rays as a clear crystal. The 
less w r e cover our soul with venial sins as with dust, the less 
we stain it by too great attachment to earthly or sensual or 
even sinful things, the more will grace pour its heavenly 
light into the soul and reveal its Divine splendor. There 
fore our Lord says : " Blessed are the clean of heart, for they 
shall see God," 

About the manner in which we should preserve the light 
of grace in our soul, St. Chrysostom J instructs us, when 

1 In I. Thess. horn. xi. 

212 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

he explains the words of the Apostle : " Extinguish not the 
spirit. A thick darkness and a heavy cloud covers the 
whole earth, what St. Paul expresses in the words : l You 
were heretofore darkness. Since, then, it is night, and a 
night not illuminated by the light of the moon, and since we 
must walk in this night, God has given us a bright lamp, 
by kindling in our hearts the grace of the Holy Spirit. 
But this light some, after receiving it, have rendered more 
shining, bright, and cheerful, as Peter, Paul, and all the 
other saints ; others, however, have extinguished it, as the 
foolish virgins, as those that have suffered shipwreck in 
their faith, the incestuous adulterer, and the apostate Gala- 
tians. Therefore, now, St. Paul says : Extinguish not the 
spirit/ for thus he habitually calls the grace of the Holy 
Spirit. This grace, however, is extinguished by an unclean 
life. For as he extinguishes a lamp, who pours into it 
water or earth, or only takes out the oil, so it is with 
grace. If you throw upon it the love for idle and transi 
tory things, you extinguish the spirit. Or if from other 
quarters there blows the wind of a severe temptation, if the 
flame is not strong, or has but little oil, or the opening of 
the lantern is not secured, or the door of the house not 
closed, all will be in vain. But which is this opening ? 
This opening in us is our eyes and ears ; do not permit a 
high wind to enter through them, which will blow out the 
light, but close these openings with the fear of the Lord. 
The mouth is -the door ; lock and bolt it, so that it may 
protect the light and ward off every irruption from with 
out. For instance, another has insulted or cursed you : 
Close the door of the mouth ; for if you open it you will 
cause a draft of wind. Do you not see that when two op 
posite doors in a house stand open and a strong wind is 
blowing, that the wind loses its greatest force and can ef 
fect nothing, as soon as you close one door and cut off the 
draft ? In the same manner there are two doors here, 
your mouth and the mouth of him who assaults you with 
affront and contumely. If you close your door and do not 

Light, a Symbol of Grace. 213 

let the wind pass through, the whole storm is at an end ; 
but if you open it, the storm cannot be checked. Let us 
then not extinguish the Spirit. 

" It often happens, however, that the flame is extin 
guished, even though there be no blast from without. When 
the oil fails, that is, when we give no alms, the Spirit is ex 
tinguished ; for He comes to you as an alms of God, and if 
He does not see in you the fruit of almsgiving, He flies 
away again, since He cannot remain in an uncharitable soul. 

" But when the Spirit is once extinct, the consequence is 
known to all who have ever wandered about in a moonless 
night. Yet if it is difficult to find the way from one part 
of the earth to the other in the night-time, is it, then, safe 
to ascend by night the way that leads from earth to Heav 
en ? Do you not know how many devils, how many wild 
beasts, how many wicked spirits infest this way ? If we 
have the light of grace, they will not be able to harm 
us ; but if we have extinguished it, they will soon destroy 
us and take away all our possessions. The robbers, like 
wise, are wont first to extinguish the lantern; and they are 
able to see in this darkness, because they practise the deeds 
of darkness, whilst we are not accustomed to the light of 


The Wonderful Power which Grace has to De 
stroy Mortal Sin in us. 


I HE first effect of the light of grace, when it is in 
fused in regeneration,, is to destroy the terrible 
darkness of mortal sin. Grace is not only inex 
haustibly fruitful in heavenly gifts and blessings ; it is 
equally powerful and strong in dispelling the evils, and, 
therefore, the soul possessing grace is compared in the 
Canticle of Canticles to an army set in array and to the 
horsemen of Pharao. 

The remedies for bodily evils owe their special value, not 
to their precious substance, nor to their agreeable odor, 
taste, or aspect, since they are often cheap, of ugly appear 
ance, of bitter taste, and disagreeable smell ; but they are ap 
preciated on account of their intrinsic remedial power, for 
which they are sought in the bowels of the earth and the 
sea, and are brought from the most distant countries. 
Grace, however, as a remedy is doubly precious ; first, beV 
cause it contains infinite and heavenly qualities, and then 
because its wonderful curative power conquers all disease 
and death, and victoriously and infallibly destroys the 
greatest of all evils, which alone appropriately deserves 
this name and can be remedied by no other power in Heav 
en or on earth. 

" Understand, ye senseless among the people; and you fools, 
l)e ivise at last." l Your sensuality, your anger, your concu 
piscence deceive you, when, contrary to the words of the 
Holy Ghost, they tell you that poverty, voluntary or in- 

1 Ps. xciii. 8. 

Grace Destroys Mortal Sin. 2 1 5 

voluntary privation, sufferings, insults, and even death, 
separate and apart from an offense of God, are true evils. 
Sin alone cannot be good, whitst every other thing may be 
beneficial to us and honorable to God. Sin alone cannot 
be given or produced by God, whilst everything else may 
be loved and esteemed by Him and may be conferred by His 
hand as a precious blessing. When the Son of God, who 
certainly is able to appreciate the truly good and the truly 
evil, came into this world to destroy evil and to obtain and 
grant us the good, He assumed unto Himself all else, en 
dured all suffering and ignominy, was made like unto us 
in all things, except sin. This alone He detested with His 
whole heart, offered for its destruction His whole life, His 
precious blood, and would bear all other evils, only to liber 
ate us from this one evil. 

Yet even if we conceded that those things are evils, 
which deprive us of life or other temporal benefits, sin is yet 
beyond comparison the greatest evil, since it deprives us 
entirely and forever of the highest and infinite good, God 
Himself ; it is a monster so hideously terrible that all 
other evils disappear before it as a mere nothing. 

Moreover, sin is the source and fountain of all other evils 
that have ever visited and shall ever visit this earth, such 
as diseases, great plagues, famine, and death. All the 
bloodshed of millions of men in so many terrible wars, 
all the pestilential diseases that have laid waste whole 
countries, in a word, all the evils that the earth has borne 
since the fall of Adam, all that we now fear, and see, and 
hear, and experience, is a terrible fruit of that sin. That 
one cruel drop of poison of that one sin has infected and 
poisoned the whole human race with all evils. 

2. And for this horrible poison there is no other remedy 
than the blood of the God-man and its fruit and power, the 
Divine grace ; for an infinite evil requires a remedy of in 
finite power and efficacy. We must drink the blood of 
Christ as a medicine, must cleanse ourselves from filth in 
this precious blood. This is possible only when we im- 

216 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

bibe the stream of grace that flows from the side of Christ, 
and in it wash away our sins, and by it are nourished and , 
vivified anew. As soon as we receive grace, we are / 
changed from enemies into children of God, we may ap 
pear confidently in His presence to pacify His anger, for 
we have put on Christ and in His justice and true sanctity 
we are exceedingly pleasing to the heavenly Father. As 
little as God can hate His only-begotten Son, so little 
can He hate those who by grace are made His living 
members and bear His image in them. A man may hate 
even his child, by continuing to charge it with a fault com 
mitted; and it does not cease to be his child. God, how 
ever, cannot hate His children, because they are at the same 
time His friends and spouses, because He beholds Himself 
in them, and has received them in unspeakably intimate 
union into His bosom. 

As the great evil of sin consists in two things that include 
each other, in this, namely, that man averts his love from 
God and God from man, which establishes an enormous 
and frightful chasm between them; so the wonderful pow 
er of grace in destroying this evil consists in removing this 
chasm and reuniting man with God and God with man. 
Neither man himself, nor any other created power, can so 
change the perverse will of man that he elevates himself 
again to God and embraces Him with supernatural, childlike 
love; and much less can man, or any other creature, so draw 
down God again into the soul, that He again encloses it as 
His child in His arms. Grace alone works both effects in 
a wonderful manner ; it infuses into our hearts the super 
natural love of the Holy Ghost, by which we again adhere 
to God, and at the same time draws down upon us the en 
tire love of the heavenly Father, so that He forgets our sins 
and considers our soul again His friend and spouse. 

Oh, how great and wonderful, then, is the power of that 
remedy of grace, which destroys an evil that no created 
power in Heaven or on earth, only the God-man and God 
Himself can conquer ! This power, however, will appear 

Grace Destroys Mortal Sin. 2 1 7 

still more wonderful if we consider the manner in which 
grace performs its work. 

3. Grace is capable not only of eradicating one disease, 
but is altogether regardless of the number and greatness of 
the diseases. Let us suppose that one man alone had 
committed all the sins and crimes from the fratricide of 
Cain to the diabolical uprising of Antichrist at the end 
of the world : if but the faintest ray of sanctifying 
grace entered the soul of this man, it would at once de 
stroy all this sin, as the least degree of this Divine sanctity 
overcomes all, even the greatest wickedness. 

Moreover, in healing our soul grace does not leave the 
smallest trace of mortal sin in our soul. It indeed does not 
always destroy the inclinations to sin, which flow from 
natural perverseness or previous evil habits ; but it always 
removes from the soul everything that is really wicked 
and damnable. Thus the Apostle says : " There is no con 
demnation to them that (by grace) are in Christ Jesus/ 1 
and the Council of Trent accordingly teaches that in the 
regenerate there is no longer anything that is the object 
of God s hatred. If our sins were as scarlet, God has as 
sured us, by His prophet, they shall be made as white as 
snow; and if they were red as crimson, they shall be white 
as wool. The same is still more clearly expressed by an 
other prophet, who promises that God will drown all our 
sins in the depth of the sea, that He will bury them so 
deeply, that if we should sin again and again, our pre 
vious sins can never return, after they have once been 
healed by the remedy of grace. 

It is still more wonderful that grace should heal our 
sins in one moment, without trouble or delay, be they ever 
so great and numerous. It needs not to wrestle with them 
a long time; the beginning of the struggle is, at the same 
time, already the victorious end; it needs only to come and 
command, as God once spoke in creation: " Be light made," 
and immediately there is light, and the darkness of sin dis- 
i Rom, viii. 1, 

218 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

appears. Scarcely had David confessed to the Lord that 
he had sinned, when he heard that his sin was taken 
away; scarcely had he said he would confess against him 
self his injustice, and his wickedness was immediately for 
given; he was reconciled to God, and from a slave of Satan 
converted into a pure angel. 

Who is not filled with admiration at such decisive and 
perfect victories, such sudden and easy triumphs of grace 
over that powerful and terrible fiend whom no other pow 
er can conquer ? Who would voluntarily again submit to 
the dire yoke, which he of his own power can never throw 
off ? And should we not, at any price, purchase, preserve, 
and anxiously guard this precious remedy of grace, that 
brings with it every blessing and dispels every evil, and. 
for its sake sacrifice honor and riches, our bodily life and 

4. Ought we not to feel ashamed, however, when we re 
member how much we do and suffer for the cure of bodily 
ailments ? We labor and suffer so much that the severest 
mortifications of the most austere penitents can scarcely be 
greater. If a sick person calls for something to drink, it 
is denied him; if he wishes to eat, he is bidden to wait. 
If the physician wishes to open his veins, burn or cut his 
wounds, he patiently lends his limbs and his body. He 
does not rise nor go about, nor do anything without the 
permission of his physician; he buries himself in solitude, 
abstains from his choicest pleasures, sacrifices his money 
and his possessions, and all this in the uncertain and often 
delusive hope of regaining a brief and inconstant state of 

On the other hand, what is sought with more negligence 
and treated with less esteem than grace, though it is so easy 
to obtain, though it is the only remedy for the deadly dis 
ease of the body, though it rescues soul and body from 
eternal death and with infallible certainty instantly regen 
erates us unto an immortal life ? 

thoughts of men, how blind you are in things that 

Grace Destroys Mortal Sin. 219 

are of the greatest value,, and how foolishly sagacious in in 
different and worthless things ! May God, however, be 
praised, who has rendered the remedy of eternal life easier 
than bodily remedies, in the same measure in which the 
heavenly surpasses the bodily remedy in value and pre- 


Grace Infuses into our Hearts the Supernatural 
Divine Virtues. 


|ITH the forgiveness and eradication of sin grace, 
according to the teaching of the holy Council of 
Trent, works the sanctification and renovation of 
the interior man, and at the same time infuses into him 
the three Divine virtues of faith, hope, and charity. 

We have already seen that grace implants in us a super 
natural, heavenly, and Divine life, the life of the children 
of God, born again of the Holy Ghost. We shall now see 
in what this life consists, which faculties are the subjects 
of this life, and by which acts it is manifested. 

The natural life of the soul, which distinguishes it from 
animals, consists in the natural acts of the reason and the 
will. The supernatural life, however, is that activity which 
proceeds from the same faculties of intellect and will, but 
after these faculties are glorified by grace and converted 
into new heavenly faculties. For as grace transforms the 
nature of the soul and makes it partaker of the Divine na 
ture, it glorifies the faculties of the soul, so that they 
become capable of performing acts of such exalted dignity 
as are peculiar only to the Divine nature. Grace invests 
these faculties with an ability and a fitness for accomplish 
ing what naturally can be accomplished by God alone, 
and this supernatural ability, which can be infused and 
implanted by grace only, is called by theologians supernat 
ural infused virtue. 

Infused virtue, then, is very different from the so-called 
acquired virtues, which we may acquire by our own activ- 

Grace Infuses Divine Virtues into tke Heart. 221 

ity. These consist in a certain readiness, acquired by our 
practice and effort, by which we are enabled to perform acts 
naturally possible with greater facility, decision, quick 
ness, and ease. These virtues may be compared to that 
fruitf ulness which we may impart to a tree by careful cul 
ture, frequent irrigation, and watchful protection from all 
evil influences. All this labor does not cause the tree to 
bring forth fruit of another kind, but only to produce its 
own peculiar fruit more certainly and in greater quantity 
and better quality. 

The infused virtues, however, are similar to the fruitful- 
ness which we may impart to a tree by engrafting upon it 
a scion from another tree of superior quality. The princi 
pal effect of these virtues consists in this, that the soul 
produces fruit of an infinitely higher and superior quality, 
of which not even the smallest germ is found in its natural 
faculties. At the same time they communicate to the soul 
a certain facility and readiness in the exercise of these 
higher supernatural acts; but as they do not at once eradi 
cate all evil propensities and weaknesses of our nature, we 
must, with the help of God, remove the impediments of 
Divine life inns, and in addition to the supernatural power 
infused by God, we must acquire facility in its exercise. 

Still another comparison may illustrate the difference of 
the natural from the supernatural virtues. Iron is tem 
pered by the fire and the hammer is magnetized by friction 
upon a magnet. The iron that is tempered is far better 
and harder than ordinary iron, but it does not change its 
nature. Magnetized iron, however, seems to be a body of 
an altogether different nature. As if by magic it loses its in 
ertia and immovability, acquires a new power of attraction, 
and is itself attracted in. a mysterious manner by the poles 
of the earth. The natural virtues now have no other 
effect than to strengthen and temper the faculties of our 
soul by frequent practice, as by strokes of a hammer, so that, 
with the help of God, they may perform what is natu 
rally good. Grace, however, magnetizes them by a myste- 

222 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

rious touch of the Divinity, which imparts to them a Di 
vine power. Thus they are converted into new Divine 
faculties, suddenly feel themselves attracted in a manner 
and by objects hitherto unknown to them, and elevated in 
to mysterious regions by an invisible hand. God Himself 
is the pole, the centre and source of our life, the pole to 
which it tends, the centre around which it revolves, and 
the source from which it draws its force and nourish 
ment ; we partake of the inner life of God. 

2. The participation in the Divine life, which is pro 
duced in us by the infused supernatural virtues, now prin 
cipally consists in this, that we copy in us the Divine ac 
tivity of life, unite our own with it, and thus in cognition, 
love, and confidence, unite ourselves with God in a similar 
manner, as He is one with Himself. 

In Christian faith we receive a supernatural and Divine 
knowledge, by uniting our knowledge with the Divine 
knowledge, and supported by it, we know God in a similar 
manner as He knows Himself. In Christian charity the 
same love for God as He bears Himself is infused into us, so 
that we are enabled to unite ourselves as intimately with 
Him and to be absorbed in Him, as if we possessed His 
own nature. In Christian hope, finally, we rest immediate 
ly upon the infinite power of God, as if it were our own, 
and thus acquire that sublime confidence to possess and en 
joy God in all His greatness for all eternity. 

Christian faith, then, is a supernatural and Divine knowl 
edge, Christian charity a supernatural and Divine love, 
Christian hope a supernatural and Divine confidence, 
whence these three virtues are also called and in reality are 
Divine virtues. They are called thus, not because they are 
in general related to God, but because they unite its in, a 
Divine manner with God, have Him for their immediate 
motive, and can be produced in us only by a communica 
tion of the Divine nature. 

With these three Divine virtues, then, God endows His 
children, so that they may lead a life worthy of their exalt- 

Grace Infuses Divine Virtues into the Heart. 223 

ed regeneration and may even on earth, in the land of 
exile, unite with Him as their Father and the object of 
their beatitude. By these alone, therefore, are we enabled 
to prepare ourselves for the eternal life, which we shall 
one day enjoy in the bosom of our heavenly Father. 

For the life that the children of God lead already upon 
earth must be of the same kind as the life that awaits 
them in Heaven. In Heaven they shall know God as He 
knows Himself, and possess and enjoy Him as He possesses 
and enjoys Himself. But as, according to the express 
teaching of Holy Church, it is indispensably necessary 
for such a knowledge, such a possession and enjoyment of 
God, that the light of glory transforms the faculties of our 
soul and deifies them or makes them deiform : so must in 
this life already the faculties of our soul be transformed 
and dei formed, to be able to know and love God and con 
fide in Him in such a manner as is necessary to obtain 
His Divine happiness. 

As certain, then, as it is that by grace God has made us 
His children and the heirs of His Heaven ; as certain as it 
is, again, that God gives to every creature all that is neces 
sary for the attainment of its end ; so certain is it, too, that 
God, by grace, endows His children with those Divine vir 
tues, without which they cannot be united with Him in a 
supernatural manner. 

3. See the plant : it has its roots that dig in the earth, 
to seek there the sap necessary for the nutrition and suste 
nance of the whole ; it has its stem that unceasingly tends 
towards the light, by which it is warmed and enlivened ; 
it possesses a certain power of attraction and production. 
to draw up and assimilate the matter suitable to its main 
tenance and development of life. But what is the soul in 
the state of grace ? Is it not likewise a plant, a wild olive 
tree, engrafted in Jesus Christ as in a cultured olive ? 
It has its roots in faith, and these roots penetrate into the 
depths of the Divinity, to draw thence the nourishment 
of Divine life. Hope is its stem, by which it raises itself to 

224 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

the Sun of justice to find there light and warmth. Love 
is the power of attraction, by which it apprehends God, to 
receive ills own life, or rather to immerse itself in Him. 

The bird, destined not to creep upon the earth, but to 
roam in ethereal regions, has received feathers and wings 
from God. The eagle builds his nest upon high, inaccessi 
ble cliffs ; fearlessly and without flinching he looks into 
the sun, he rises on mighty pinions above the clouds, and 
from on high darts upon the booty which he descries in 
the plains beneath. This is the image of the child of God, 
that rises on the pinions of faith, hope, and charity from 
the depth of its nature, by which it adheres to this earth, 
unto the bosom of God Himself, there takes up its resi 
dence, beholds God in His inaccessible light, and descends 
to the earth only to snatch the booty from the devil, to ed 
ify and convert fellow-men, and to perform acts of penance 
and charity. 

If a ship has been built and launched into the sea, it lies 
immovable, because of itself it is incapable of moving. 
But scarcely have strong arms taken hold of its rudder, 
scarcely have the sails been unfurled, scarcely has the fire 
which develops a mighty steam power been kindled, than the 
ship moves, plunges into the high sea, divides the waters 
with swiftest rapidity, and in a few days reaches the far 
thermost ends of the earth, whence it soon returns laden 
with treasures. So the Christian is cast upon the stormy sea 
of the world, to seek the port of Heaven. His natural fac 
ulties might perhaps suffice to bring his boat, in a small 
river or lake, safely from one shore to another. But on 
the high ocean, that separates the finite from the infinite, 
he requires very different means and other faculties to reach 
the distant shore, and these are given him by God in the 
Divine virtues. Faith is our compass, which points out to 
us with infallible certainty the heavenly country, that 
we ourselves cannot see. Hope takes the place of rudder 
and sail, since it inspires us with a supernatural confidence 
in our attainment of the distant goal, heightens our 

Grace Infuses Divine Virtues into the Heart. 225 

courage and assures us of the omnipotent help of God. 
Love, finally, is the moving power, a holy and mighty pro 
pelling-power, that carries us more speedily and swiftly to 
God than a ship is borne across the ocean by steam. By 
the power of these virtues we sail along with courage, com 
bat the storms, overcome the billows, escape the rocks and 
shoals, and arrive safe in the port of eternity. 

Oh, how great is the goodness of God, how great the glory 
of His grace, which so elevates and transforms all the facul 
ties of our spiritual nature, introduces these three Divine 
virtues together into oar soul, and infuses into it a heaven 
ly and Divine life ! Oh, that all Christians very often con 
sidered the dignity and preciousness of these Divine vir 
tues and experienced its sweetness and pleasure by dili 
gent practice ; they would certainly not make so light of 
them and of their source, grace, but would rather consider 
it a great privilege to be permitted to possess and cultivate a 
Divine life in their soul. 

Supernatural Divine Faith. 


HE first of these three Divine virtues is that of 
faith. Its subject is our reason. Faith supernat- 
urally enlightens and strengthens reason and 
enables it to unite its own knowledge with that of God, 
and, with the aid and medium of such knowledge, to per 
ceive and know with infallible certainty the mysteries that 
naturally are cognizable only by God and are concealed 
from every created eye. Faith gives the soul a new eye, 
or rather, it lets the soul see through the eye of God, and 
makes it partake of the Divine knowledge. 

Indeed, if by grace we partake of the Divine nature, 
then we must likewise partake of that knowledge which 
is peculiar to the Divine nature. We must, as the Apostle 
says, know God in the same manner in which we are known. 
That will take place in a perfect measure, only when grace 
has been perfected in us in the light of glory, and when in 
the bosom of the Father, at the side of His only-begotten 
Son, we behold Him in His own light, as He is fa?e to 
face. But even now, in the land of exile, God does not for 
sake His children. Even now they shall know Him, and 
their own dignity and inheritance ; and as no one knows 
the Father, but Himself and His Son with the Holy 
Ghost, He must reveal Himself to us by His own word. 
And since we by nature cannot grasp and understand this 
Divine word in a worthy manner, He must, by a super 
natural strength and supernatural light, qualify us to under 
stand and believe this word. 

2. This faith is something inestimably great and won- 

Supernatural Divine Faith. 22 J 

derf ul, and if the world does not consider it so, it is, as St.- 
Ambrose teaches, because "the narrow heart of the ivicked 
cannot comprehend the greatness of faith," The world 
imagines that faith is something suitable only for the weak 
and uneducated; that it is an indication of narrowness and 
weakness of mind, whilst St. Leo says: "Faith is the vi 
tal force of great sonls." Only credulous human faith is 
a sign of weakness and narrow-mindedness, because by it 
we believe men capable of deception and error, without 
rational cause and wise discrimination. Divine faith, how- 
<ever, is the noblest and most dignified act of human reason 
:and wisdom, which thus unites and subjects itself to the 
highest and infallible reason that reveals itself by plain 
.and unmistakable signs. 

If faith does manifest human weakness and inferiority, 
this happens only because all human power and wisdom, even 
that of angels, is not sufficient to elicit such an act of faith 
.as God requires of us. All that a created spirit, in its high 
est natural perfection, is able to do, is to subject itself in 
deepest reverence to the word of God revealed to it, to ac 
knowledge it as a humble servant in unconditional obedience, 
and to conform its own judgment to this word. But it is 
incapable of raising itself in daring flight up to God Him 
self, and to so unite by faith its judgment with the Divine, 
that its. cognition assumes the qualities of Divine cognition, 
and partakes of its sublimity and infallible certainty. This 
is possible only by the power of supernatural grace. It 
alone gives a creature the power to soar high above its 
natural limited sphere up to God, to hear His word in His 
own bosom, to drink in the light of truth immediately from 
the Divine Sun, to be supported in God as upon a firm rock 
and to find in Him unchangeable, infallible security and 

Therefore, our Divine Saviour says, 1 that no one can 
come to Him, except the Father draw him by that super 
natural attraction that draws us beyond the limits of nature 

1 John vi. 44. 

228 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

into the bosom of the Father to the side of His only-be 
gotten Son. 

Thus the act of faith infinitely surpasses all natural power, 
it is an absolutely supernatural act ; but on that account 
the grace of faith, that makes it possible, is something 
great and wonderful. "Who possesses it is not weak, 
but strong beyond conception, not narrow-minded, but 
endowed with an almost infinite power of understanding. 
The souls of the faithful alone are the really true and great 
spirits, infinitely greater and stronger than all the wise 
men of this world. For these are supported only by the 
vacillating reed of their natural reason, which is tossed 
about by the winds of their humors and passions ; they are 
as little children, who are carried aw r ay by every storm and 
are deceived by the wickedness of men and the aims of 
the devil. The souls of the faithful, however, are, according 
to the Apostle, really strong and manly, since by faith they 
sink their anchor into Divine truth, in supernatural secur 
ity, bid defiance to all storms, and with unshaken conviction 
hold the principles of the highest truth. 

3. Yet grace not only bestows upon us a supernatural 
strength, necessary for Divine faith ; it is besides a super 
natural light, that enlightens us for faith and in faith. 

In order to believe, it is necessary to know that God 
Himself speaks to us. Kow, this we may know by our 
natural reason alone, if we attentively consider the 
extrinsic criterions that accompany revelation. But un 
less God, besides this, illuminated our heart in a mysterious 
manner, unless He approached us supernaturally, and, as it 
were, inserted a new ear into our heart, we should be in 
capable of understanding and appreciating His word in a 
manner necessary for the peculiar supernatural enlighten 
ment of faith. The supernatural attraction of grace is not 
a blind and obscure, but a clear and enlighteiad-iii^aetit5r[7 
that represents to us our supernatural destiny in all its 
Divine splendor and draws near to it. Grace is like a new 
heavenly ether, whose vibrations communicate to us the 

Supernatural Divine Faith. 229 

voice of God far better than the earthly atmosphere of our 
senses and our reason. By grace we perceive the Divine 
word immediately as it proceeds from His mouth, we feel 
its whole Divine power and force, and are thus incited to 
accept it in all its plenitude and greatness. Hence, the 
Apostle teaches that God by grace enlightens the eyes of 
our heart, and opens its ear, that we may know, and know 
supernaturally. whom we believe. 

After we have thus, by the light and strength of grace, 
grasped and received in us the word of God, we must by 
the same supernatural light learn to comprehend the 
truths which God reveals to us. For these truths are 
of so sublime a nature that the light of reason is as in 
sufficient to understand them, as it is to reveal them to 
us. A man born blind may hear a very accurate and 
elaborate description of the objects of our vision; these ob 
jects will always remain strange and incomprehensible to 
him. The same would be our condition with regard to 
supernatural truths, if God, who reveals them to us by His 
word, did not at the same time infuse into us the supernat 
ural light of grace, and by means of this light bring home 
to us these truths. By the light of grace, drawn from His 
own light, He represents to us the things that He has Him 
self beheld in this light. Grace elevates us to a supernat 
ural condition and thus brings us into mysterious connec 
tion and relation, as it were, in contact with the supernat 
ural mysteries, so that they no longer appear entirely 
strange and incomprehensible to us. True, we cannot on 
earth arrive at an immediate intuition of these truths, 
which would suspend faith; nevertheless, they become as 
clearly and easily intelligible as is possible in this time of 
faith. ^ 

4. Oh, how foolish are they who denounce faith as 
darkness and oppression of reason ! On the contrary, all- 
natural knowledge, compared to faith, is but as the light 
of a lamp compared to the full glow of the midday sun. 
Our reason is but a created and an earthly light that faint- 

230 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

ly illumines the objects of this earth and the creatures, 
and shows us the Creator Himself, only from a remote dis 
tance. It is a light which enables us to see but few 
things and these imperfectly, just as a lamp illumines only 
the nearest surroundings, and does not exhibit these in 
their full and natural color. Faith, on the other hand, 
raises us above all created things up to God Himself ; with 
it our soul soars as an eagle up to the sun, and boldly and 
freely fixes its eye upon God and penetrates into His deep 
est mysteries. Proceeding then from God, the last reason 
and source of all things, faith unrolls before our eye the 
whole visible and invisible world, and shows us everything 
in its real light. It discloses to us the depths of the Di 
vinity, and reveals to us how, from all eternity, the Son 
proceeds from the Father and the Holy Ghost from both, 
as the bond of their mutual love ; how, in time, the 
Son goes forth from the bosom of His Father, to pour out 
over His creatures the plenitude of His Divine glory and 
happiness, and to unite in the Holy Spirit all creatures 
with Him and the Father in most intimate communion. 
It shows us the final supernatural end of all things, where 
the finite passes over into the infinite, the transitory in 
to the immutable, and is so united to God, that God is 
made all in all and should this light appear to us mere 
darkness and obscurity ? And should we fear to submit 
our reason obediently to faith and not rather glory in it, 
and with St. Peter thank God that He has called its into 
His admirable light? 

There is, indeed, a certain degree of darkness connected 
with this light, but it is a darkness similar to the twi 
light, which indicates the dawn of day, and the approach 
ing splendor of the sun, and ought, therefore, to be dear 
er to us than all the lamps burning in the night ; it is a 
darkness like that of a starry night, which reveals greater 
mysteries to us and gives an infinitely greater scope to our 
vision than even the brightest day. The day permits us 
to see but a small part of the earth s surface, a mere 

Supernatural Divine Faith. 231 

speck in the great world ; night, however, carries our vis 
ion into immeasurable distances up to the greatest and 
most distant constellations, which the sun had hidden from 
our view. There is a darkness in faith ; but it is of such a 
nature as to render palpable for us that which is invisible. 
"Faith/ says the Apostle, 1 " is the substance of tilings 
to be hoped for,, the evidence of things that appear not" St. 
Bernard, commenting upon this against a heretic, who 
maintained that faith was a mere opinion, exclaims : 
" Hearest thou, substance ? Not then a fickle opin 
ion, not an idle fancy. Everything here is solid, every 
thing secure, and admits of no doubt, no hesitation." Faith 
grounds us in Divine truth and this truth in us so firmly 
and immovably, that we perceive, with the same absolute 
and infallible certainty as Divine truth itself, that our con 
viction, our judgment, can be wrong and erroneous as lit 
tle as the conviction and judgment of God, upon which 
ours is based. Faith is darkness, because in it we do not 
see with our own eyes ; but instead, we see with the lumin 
ous eye of God, before which there is no darkness. 

Faith, then, is a night, but a night illumined with 
heavenly light. It is night in reference to the day of eter 
nal glory, but is brightest day with respect to the light of 
reason and sense, which in comparison with it is but dark 
est night. The grace of faith as far surpasses all natural 
knowledge, as the seeing eye is superior to the blind, and 
the rational soul of man to the irrational brute. 

5. Far from considering faith as darkness in comparison 
with reason we should esteem it the more, the more we 
appreciate and love the latter. We justly esteem and ap 
preciate reason as a great gift of God, because it also, like 
a signet, impresses upon our soul the light of the Divine 
countenance, and raises us far above the irrational animal. 
Justly do we deem it the greatest misfortune if any one, 
from disease, or perhaps even through his own fault, loses 
the use of reason, and we consider it a far sadder loss 
1 Heb. XL 1. 

232 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

than the loss of his bodily eye-sight. But far more sacred 
and dear should we hold the light of faith, which raises 
us, not only above the brute, but above all rational crea 
tures, which reveals to us the unveiled countenance of God 
Himself, and which can be lost to us and excluded from 
our soul only through our own fault. 

What an act of terrible cruelty would he commit, who in 
mad frenzy, tore out both his eyes, or who deprived him 
self, knowingly and willingly, of the use of his reason ! 
And yet it were far more cruel and at the same time a heinous 
crime, if you, imitating so many others, declined to receive 
the heavenly and Divinely offered light of faith, or if, after 
being blessed with it, by frivolous doubt or stubborn pride, 
you instantly extinguished it in your soul, and thus cast 
yourself into darkest gloom. 

How few are there who not only guard against the loss of 
faith, but honor this grace highly as a source of heaven 
ly light, and endeavor day by day to increase it and to derive 
new light from it ! So many spend their whole life in cease 
less labor, in countless sacrifices of health and money for 
no other purpose but to acquire human science and to 
learn the most trivial and insignificant things. Yet it 
never enters their mind that one spark, one ray of this 
heavenly light of faith contains incomparably more light 
and truth than all science of men and angels together. 
All human science, says St. Augustine, is as the light of the 
setting sun, that wanes more and more, and in its progress 
grows constantly paler. In the same manner human 
reason, the deeper it penetrates into the essence of things, 
the higher it would rise, must acknowledge evermore its 
weakness, and finally, at the approach of the highest truths, 
sees nothing ahead but dark night. But in this night rises 
the light of faith, as an ever increasing morning dawn, 
and reveals to us a new, supernatural and more beautiful 
world, and implants in our soul the germs of a heavenly 
and imperishable knowledge, germs of inestimable fruit- 
fulness, that are never lost except through our own fault, 

Supernatural Divine Faith. 233 

and that will one day unfold their undying bloom in the 
light of glory. 

Oh, that we devoted half the trouble and sacrifices 
which the learned men undergo for the attainment of 
human science, to increase in us the grace of faith, to re 
ceive its light ever more fully, and follow the word of God 
ever more closely ! With how much pleasure would we 
bask in this heavenly light, with what delight would we 
absorb its glorious rays ! How soon would all earthly 
things appear to us vain and colorless, and Heaven alone 
smile at us with enchanting charm ! We should glory in 
our holy faith, and like the Apostle, boast of knowing- 
naught but Jesus, and Him crucified. How would all the 
wisdom of this world appear but as folly, and our heart be 
filled with gratitude toward God, who has liberated us 
from the powers of darkness, and called us unto His admir 
able light ! 

Supernatural Divine Hope. 


| HE second of the supernatural theological virtues, 
which is infused by grace into our heart and which 
is no less great and glorious than the first,, is 
Christian hope. 

Hope, like charity, has its seat, not in the intellect, but 
in the will. The will, namely, lias two different acts : the 
first is, to take pleasure in anything good and to love it, and 
the second to pursue it with earnest activity and firm con 
fidence. In the same manner, now, as faith communicates 
to our reason a supernatural power of understanding, the 
infused virtue of hope endows our will with a Divine power 
and a supernatural confidence, that it may actively pursue 
and securely attain the highest and infinite good, which no 
created force can ever attain. Hope likewise carries us 
above all creatures up to God, to let us rest in His bosom, to 
strengthen us in His omnipotence, and ground us upon it 
as upon an immovable rock. 

Its greatness, then, has two reasons : first, because 
it gives us the confidence to possess God, the high 
est supernatural good, perfect and entire for all eternity, 
and second, because it bases this confidence upon nothing 
less than upon the infinite power and might of God Him 
self. God alone possesses Himself by His nature, and He 
alone, therefore, can grant the possession of Himself to 
His creatures. 

Hope or confidence, says St. Thomas, l is the raising of 
the soul, by which it confidently pursues a sublime and 

1 1,2, qu. 25, a. 1. 

Supernatu ral Divine Hope. 235 

arduous good, and despises and overcomes all the obstacles 
that are in the way of its attainment of this good. It is an 
elevating sentiment,, which fills the soul with a joyous 
pride in the consciousness of its power, and more than any 
other thing transports it with a peculiar great delight. 
The more sublime the good is which our hope has for its 
object, the greater is the power upon which it is founded, 
and the greater is that joy and delight which we derive 
from such hope. 

2. TIow powerful and lovely, then, must this Christian 
hope be which God infuses into our soul by grace ! It 
grants us the consoling and comforting assurance that by 
grace God has called us to the ineffable dignity of His 
sonship ; that we are His heirs and the co-heirs of His Son 
and shall sit upon His throne and reign with Him ; that 
the whole world shall be subject to us, and God Himself, 
with all His glory, with all His treasures and riches, with 
all Ilia Divine happiness, will be our possession and our joy. 
This hope does not rest us upon the frail support of a cre 
ated power, but upon the transcendent greatness of God s 
own power, who, according to the words of the Apostle, 
" Fills us unto, all the fullness of God and does all things in 
us more abundantly than we desire or understand." l It 
makes the omnipotence of God our own and lets us rest se 
cure in the possession of this power. For God belongs to 
us, since He has made us His children ; He embraces us 
with infinite paternal love, receives us into His bosom, 
covers us with the cloak of His omnipotence, and strength 
ens us with the entire fulness of His Divine power, so that 
we may exclaim with the Apostle : "If God be for us, 
who is against us ? He that spared not even His own Son, 
but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also, 
with Him, given us all things ? " * 

This consciousness gives the children of God that triumph 
ant confidence which fears no danger, no obstacle, which is 
terrified by no created power, because it is superior to them 

1 Eph. iii. 19, 20. 2 Rom. viii. 31, 32. 

236 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

all, which knows no hesitation, no trembling, no fear, no dis 
appointment, and renders us as secure of attaining to our 
end, as if we were already in possession of it. Therefore 
the Apostle says : : " Wlio then shall separate us from the 
love of Christ? shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? 
or nakedness ? or danger? or persecution? or the sivord? 
But in all these things we overcome, because of Him that 
hath loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, 
nor angels, nor principalities, nor poivers, nor things 
present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor 
depth, nor any other creature shall he able to separate us 
from the love of God, :uhich is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Yes, we are certain, and infallibly certain, that neither a 
hostile power in Heaven nor on earth, nor our own very 
great weakness can prevent us from attaining to our high 
aim, if only we ourselves, not from weakness, but from our 
own free will and our malice, do not withdraw from this in 
finite power of God. This power never deserts us so long 
as we do not desert it ; it remains with us and in us, so long 
as we remain with it ; it fortifies and completes upon the 
weak foundation of our soul that heavenly edifice, which 
we alone are able again to destroy by taking away this 

3. Great God ! How can our weak and miserable heart 
comprehend or even sustain this strong confidence, which 
rises above Heaven and earth and triumphs over everything 
and over ourselves ! Indeed, we cannot of our own ability 
conceive it ; Thy powerful grace alone can infuse it into us. 
Our heart could not so much as bear it, it would be crushed 
thereby, unless Thy grace, as with a mighty hand, sup 
ported and strengthened it. On that sublime course, 
which leads to Thy Heaven, our heart would collapse at 
the first step, unless Thy grace gave it wings, to fly 
clear of all abysses, to raise itself from earth over the 
highest mountains, and to continue ascending until it rests 
in Thy bosom. 

1 Rom. viii. 35-39. 

Supernatural Divine Hope. 237 

What thanks must we then render Thee for this other 
fruit of Thy grace, and what better thanks can we give, 
than to preserve faithfully and increase constantly this 
Divine confidence, this heavenly courage, this holy pride, 
which is founded upon Thee and rejoices in Thee ? Thus 
we may often exclaim with the Psalmist : " Some trust in 
chariots, and some in horses, hut ive call upon the name of 
the Lord: 3 

May God, as the Apostle prays for vis, (f enlighten the eyes 
of our heart, that we may knoiv what is the hope of His catt 
ing, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance 
in the saints." J By the power of that Holy Spirit, whom 
we receive as the pledge of our glory, as our solace in all 
grief, as our helper in our weakness, may we all confident 
ly " wait for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption 
of our body."* May we all, with the Apostle, firmly hold 
"this grace wherein we stand, and glory in the hope of the 
glory of the sons of God." Yea, we should, as the same 
Apostle says, 4 "glory in tribulations, knowing that tribula 
tion worketh patience, and patience trial, and trial hope, 
and hope confoundeth not." 

4. Yet how much do we dishonor this great and inef 
fable grace of Divine Hope by our pusillanimous timidity! 
We tremble at the slightest danger, we succumb to the 
least trial, we cleave to this earth and dare not take one 
step on the steep pathway of Heaven. If we only consider 
our natural powers, we have reason enough to despair. 
But what excuse have we, when God, by His powerful grace, 
gives us such strength and makes us superior to all the 
powers of hell ? Why do we not seize this grace and sup 
port ourselves by it, and thus drive fear and anxiety from 
our heart ? At other times we are so much inclined to 
rely upon our strength, to boast of it, even when in re-- 
ality it is very weak or when the object is very insignifi 
cant. Why should we, then, do ourselves this incalcu 
lable harm and God this great injustice, not to confide 

i Eph. i. 18. 2 Rom. viii. 23. 3 Ibid. v. 2. 4 Ibid. 3-5. 

238 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

in Him through His grace, and supported by Him, why 
should we not despise all our enemies and dangers ? The 
youth rejoices in the fulness of His youthful vigor ; the 
warrior is boastful of his strength and valor ; the prince is 
proud of the great number of his subjects and the extent of 
his riches ; should the children of God alone remain in 
abject lowliness and forget their sublime dignity and 
power ? Theirs is a perennial youth that never decays, 
but is renewed and increased from day to day. They are 
an arni} r in battle array, whose strength is the power of the 
Almighty and before whom hell itself trembles. All 
creatures must serve and co-operate for the welfare of 
those who love God, and all the treasures and riches of God 
are at their disposal. 

Let us then in future hold this grace of heavenly hope 
in high esteem ; let us appreciate the hope of this heaven 
ly glory more than all earthly riches and power, and let us 
expect with unshaken confidence the possession of the 
highest good, which will crown our hope with the un 
speakably happy assurance that we can never again be de 
prived of it, even by our own fault. 


Supernatural Divine Charity. 


[IE third and greatest of divine virtues is that of 
supernatural love for God and our neighbor. 
" Now there remain," says the Apostle, 1 "faith, 
hope, charity, these three; ~but the greatest of these is char- 


It is the greatest, because it is the complement and per 
fection of faith and hope. For by charity we embrace that 
highest good which we know by faith ; by charity we are 
united on earth already with that which is the object of our 
hope in Heaven. Faith and hope may be dead, i. e., they 
may exist in us, without uniting us in a living and perfect 
manner with God, whilst charity cannot be dead, but is 
life itself and therefore gives life also to faith and hope. 
We may possess the faith and hope of the children of God, 
without possessing sanctifying grace. Charity, however, is 
inseparably connected with sanctifying grace, because we 
cannot be children of God, without loving Him as our 
Father, and again we cannot embrace Him with filial love, 
without experiencing His paternal affection. When 
charity is infused into our soul, then the Holy Ghost is 
given us likewise ; He then comes, not only to enrich us 
with His grace, but to dwell in us and consecrate us as His 

This supernatural charity, therefore, is as great a gift as 
sanctifying grace itself ; yea, in the opinion of St. Augus 
tine, as great as the Holy Spirit Himself, who is given us in 
and by it. As God unites Himself in a supernatural and 
i I. Cor. xiil. 13, 

240 77/6 Glories of Divine Grace. 

indescribable manner with our soul by grace, so we unite 
ourselves by supernatural love in a mysterious manner 
with God and thus complete that wonderful circle, that 
golden ring, which embraces God and the creature and 
makes both one spirit. This wonderful ring is the most 
perfect image of the divine union, which unites God the 
Father with His only-begotten Son and the Son with the 
Father in the Holy Spirit. The Eternal Father produces 
the Son of His love and the image of His glory with inef 
fable love ; the Son, however, is united to the Father and re 
turns to Him with the same infinite love, and both breathe 
in this love the Holy Spirit as their mutual bond of union ; 
in like manner God bestows upon us that same love which 
He bears His own Son by making us participants of the 
Divine nature ; and we again approach and return to our 
heavenly Father by filial love, as we have proceeded from 
Him ; and the same Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the 
Father and the Son, becomes the bond and seal of our 
union with God. 

2. You will understand this better, dear Christian 
reader, when you consider the essence and nature of this 
love, which proceeds from grace. This love is a Divine 
love, not only because it has God for it object and unites 
us with God, but because by it we so love God as He alone, 
in virtue of His Divine nature, can love Himself. As 
grace is a participation of the Divine nature, so is the 
charity which proceeds from grace a participation of the 
Divine charity in its peculiar nature. Hence some theolo 
gians have supposed this charity as a virtue to be identical 
with God, with the person of the Holy Spirit Himself. 
This indeed is not correct ; it is rather, according to the 
words of the Apostle, something infused into our hearts 
ly the Holy Ghost ; it is a holy flame, which His sacred 
fire kindles in our soul, an image of that Divine charity 
from which He Himself proceeds, as the immediate, bea 
tific vision in Heaven is an image and a participation of that 
Divine intelligence of which the Etcrnnl AVord is born. 

Supernatural Divine Charity. 241 

Nevertheless, it is something glorious and Divine, so that 
St. Augustine says it is called by the name of God, and no 
other name would fully express its value. 

And, indeed, only such a Divine love becomes the state 
of the children of God. By grace we are received as true 
children of God into His bosom ; we are, as it were, of 
equal birth with God, and approach Him infinitely nearer 
than we do by nature. But if we are so intimately related 
to God, then our love for Him must be of equal kind with 
the love He bears Himself, it must be Divine. In grace 
He loves us with paternal love in. His only-begotten Son, 
and so we must by grace embrace Him with filial love. By 
grace He comes to us with the whole goodness and sweet 
ness of His Divine nature, and so grace must pervade our 
soul as with a Divine magnetism, that draws us supernat- 
urally to God, and immerses us in Him. By grace we 
participate in the Divine nature, and as we are, therefore, 
called to know God as He knows Himself, so we must be 
qualified by this participation to love Him in a similar 
manner as He loves Himself. 

As that love which God bears Himself is a holy love, 
because it is referred to the purest and highest good, and 
loves it as it deserves to be loved, in a word, because it is a 
Divine love, our love to God, which flows from grace, 
must be a holy love, because it is of the nature of Divine 

It is self-evident, that this Divine love is altogether su 
pernatural. Even in the order of nature we can and 
must love God as our Creator and Lord, whose natural 
image we are. But this natural love is as different from 
the Divine love, as the nature of the creature is from that 
of the Creator, as the natural cognition of God in the image 
of His creatures differs from the immediate vision of His 
nature, as an earthly fire differs from the light of the sun. 
Though both are related to God yet these relations are of a 
very different nature ; as the love of a servant and of a 
child may have the same person for its object, yet the one 

242 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

loves him as a master, the other as a father. The former 
remains at a distance from God,, and cannot rise up to Him, 
embrace Him, and be united to Him. The latter, how 
ever, approaches God, transcends all limits of nature, and 
so immerses itself in God, as if it were of the same nature, 
and one person with Him. 

3. See, then, Christian soul, how great and wonderful, 
how full of glory and blessing must grace be, on this further 
account, that it qualifies you for so sublime, supernatural, 
holy, and Divine a love ! 

Love in general is the sweetest and happiest thing that 
exists in God or in creatures ; yea, it is sweetness and hap 
piness itself, as its very name indicates. Our heart 
lias been created for love ; it finds its delight and hap 
piness therein ; its innermost self is enfolded therein ; it 
surrenders itself entirely to love, and lives and flourishes 
in it ; it desires nothing more than to find a worthy 
object of its love, with which it may intimately unite itself 
and into which it may infuse itself. We are happy already 
if we may love a creature whose beauty wins our admir 
ation, or who is united to us by the most intimate ties of 
friendship or affinity. Incomparably sweeter and happier, 
however, must it be for us, that we may entertain any love 
for God Himself, and rejoice in Him, the highest and infinite 
good, our gracious Creator and most benevolent Lord. 

Yet what is all natural love to creatures, and to God 
Himself, when compared with that supernatural holy love 
which is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit in 
grace ? This love comes directly from God Himself ; it is 
the blossom and fruit of Divine life and Divine happiness; 
it is that spark or fire of Divine charity with which He 
Himself is inflamed. Compared with it natural love is, as it 
were, no love, is as a fire without warmth, as a plant with 
out life. 

Of this supernatural love Thomas a Kempis writes in 
holy rapture : * Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing 

Book 3, Cb. 5. 

Supernatural Divine Charity. 243 

stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more 
pleasant, nothing fuller or better in Heaven or earth ; for 
love proceeds from God, and cannot rest but in God, above 
all things created. Whosoever loves, knows the cry of this 
voice ; a loud cry in the ears of God is the ardent affection 
of the soul, which saitli : Oh, my God, my love, Thou 
art all mine, and I am all Thine ! 

It is this love alone which is accorded such eminent 
praise by the Apostle, when he exhorts us to be "rooted 
and founded in charity, that we may be able to comprehend, 
with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and 
height and depth ; that we may know the charity of Christ, 
which surpasseth all knowledge, that ^ve may Refilled unto all 
the fulness of God." 1 

Of this love St. Bernard says : 2 "It forgets the rever 
ence and submission proper to a creature, and with 
the facility of a child, and the familiarity of a spouse, 
boldly raises itself up to God Himself, to clasp Him as its 
Father, Brother, Friend, and Spouse in most intimate and 
sweet embrace ; to penetrate into the innermost depths of 
His goodness and sweetness, and to be dissolved in the 
abyss of His Divine heart/ 

4. Since it is this infused charity alone which makes us 
love God as He loves Himself, it alone likewise makes us pos 
sess God in truth ; by it we possess Him not only in affec 
tion, but also in reality in our heart, by it we enjoy His 
Divine sweetness at its very fountain. By it we embrace 
God as oiir Father, as He by grace embraces us as His 
children. By it we approach Him ever nearer, we become 
ever more like unto Him, until we are entirely transformed 
into His image, and behold Him face to face. By it we are 
united to God into one spirit, and, as it were, melted together 
as two flames which meeting are united into one, and 
as two liquid metals flowing together are inseparably united 
into one body. For as the Divine nature is pure fire, and 
a burning stream of love, its union with our love, when this 

1 Eph. iii. 17-20. 2 j n Caiit. Loin- 83. 

244 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

is of a similar kind, is so intimate, that among creatures no 
union can compare with it. Where two desires, which are 
equally ardent, meet, their union is perfect. 

What earthly love ever unites so intimately the lover 
and the beloved ? What love can so immerse the one in 
the other, and so blend the two ? What love can so absorb 
its object and so securely possess it ? 

Oh, human heart ! poor and miserable heart, that always 
will love and yet is never satisfied with love ; that so di 
vides and wastes away its love, and whilst it seeks its life 
in such love, finds its death therein ; that is always aglow 
with the fire of love, and yet is not warmed and softened 
by this heat, but becomes hardened and brittle ! How canst 
thou remain closed against this grace of Divine love, which 
will satiate thee with the stream of Divine happiness, 
which will call forth in thee an ever-blooming life, which 
will set thee aglow with a heavenly fire ! When God, in 
such great love, approaches thee, how canst thou refuse to 
complete that golden circuit which will fasten Himself to 
thee and thyself to Him ! How canst thou yet seek an 
other love, surrender thyself to another love, when here is 
offered to thee the purest, the highest, the sweetest, and 
most powerful love ! Oh, if thou didst know the gift of 
God, like the Samaritan woman thou wouldst ask the 
Saviour for the living water of His love, which not only 
quenches thy thirst for love, but gives thee infinitely more 
than thy desire craves ! For grace not only directs thy nat 
ural power of love to the true good ; it is the source of a 
new, heavenly love, unknown to thee in thy natural state. 

Hasten, then, to be made drunken with the wine of 
Divine love and to submerge in it every other love. Dis 
engage thyself from all love to creatures, from self-love, 
from every natural and earthly love, and live henceforth 
only in this holy love of God. Then wilt thou soon taste 
its heavenly sweetness and preciousness, as so many saints 
have tasted it, and thy experience on earth already will 
confirm the teaching of thy holy faith. 

Supernatural Divine Charity. 245 

5. But since we must live among men and according to 
the will of God love them also, the grace of God works 
another miracle no less great than the first. It enno 
bles and elevates also our love for our neighbor and dips this 
love also into a heavenly balsam, thereby conferring upon 
it the same heavenly, precious sweetness which the love of 
God possesses. St. John therefore applies all his beautiful 
and sublime sayings equally to the love of God and the 
Christian love of our neighbor. Grace leads us to embrace 
our neighbor with the same love that we have for God, to 
love him in God as a child, a friend, a spouse of God, and 
thus it unites us with our fellow-men with such intimate, 
firm, sweet, and holy bonds of friendship, as are unknown 
and impossible to nature. 

What, indeed, are the natural human ties of a common 
nature of relationship of matrimony, compared with those 
that unite us in God as members and brethren of Christ, 
who participate in one and the same undivided Divine na 
ture ? The latter are certainly incomparably more inti 
mate, because they represent our neighbor as one and per 
fectly one with us in God ; they are more firm, because 
God Himself is their seal, and death cannot destroy, but 
only strengthen and glorify them ; they are more holy and 
sublime, because they are of a heavenly and Divine nature 
and are finally infinitely sweeter and more pleasant, because 
the sweetness of God Himself seasons and penetrates 

Great and wonderful, then, is the grace of Divine char 
ity likewise in this second effect ; here, again, it is a gold 
en chain, which, hanging down from Heaven, not only 
links together most intimately individual men, but all 
who possess, or are destined to possess the sonship of God. 
It acts as a heavenly cement, which forms us all into one 
great body and unites us so sweetly and firmly, that an 
inexpressible, heavenly harmony and the peace of Christ 
reign over us all. 

Let us then again give thanks to God for His powerful 

246 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace, which produces in us such a sweet and holy charity. 
But our thanks will then be most acceptable, if we consid 
er this charity as a most beautiful crown, with which His 
infinite goodness adorns us, and not as a heavy burden, 
which His law imposes upon us. Let us not only esteem 
it more, infinitely more, than all natural gifts, but more 
than all other supernatural gifts and virtues, as the Apos 
tle teaches us in the words : " If I speak with the tongues 
of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am, become as 
sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. If I should have proph 
ecy, and should know all mysteries and all knowledge : If 
I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, 
and have not charity, I am nothing. If I should distrib 
ute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver 
my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profdeth 
me nothing." 

With this charity we possess all, and in losing it we lose 
till. When we possess charity, we also possess the other 
supernatural virtues ; but if we lack it, all others lose 
their vitality and power and cannot bring us to life eter 
nal. Though every mortal sin do not destroy in us faith 
and hope, yet it always destroys charity and with it sancti 
fying grace. Without these, however, faith and hope are 
lifeless and can scarcely be called virtues, since they camiot 
render us capable of living as children of God and merit 
ing Heaven. It is charity alone, says St. Augustine, 
which distinguishes the children of God from the children 
of Satan. We must, then, acquire it at every cost, we must 
give our life in defence of it, so that we may become 
worthy of enjoying its sweetness for all eternity in the 
bosom of our heavenly Father. 

1 I. Cor. xiii. 1-4. 

The Supernatural Moral Virtues. 


LONG- with Divine charity, sanctifying grace pro 
duces in our soul a whole series of supernatural 
virtues,, adorning it as a crown of heavenly flow 
ers. Since the Eternal Wisdom is united with our soul by 
grace, the words of Holy Scripture in praise of wisdom 
may be applied to it also : " All good things came to me 
together with her, and innumerable riches (of virtue), 
through her hands." 

By grace we are made new men, new creatures ; we en 
ter a new and exceedingly sublime state and pursue the 
highest and most exalted end, the vision of God ; we are 
true children and friends of God. Since God now gives all 
His creatures, according to their state and destiny, the 
power and means to live according to this state and attain 
to their end, He must grant His children the sublime, heav 
enly virtues that correspond to their state and that help 
them to arrive at their supernatural destiny. The chil 
dren of God must be perfect, as their heavenly Father is 
perfect ; they must have Divine habits and must reflect the 
image of God in all their features, manners, and ac 
tions. Therefore grace must not only bestow upon us the 
Divine virtues, by which we are united with God in faith, 
hope, and charity, but besides these all those virtues which 
enable us to live comformably to our rank as children of 
God, and to our sublime relations towards God, our neigh 
bor, and ourselves. In distinction from the Divine virtues 
these are called the moral virtues. These moral supernat 
ural virtues are as far superior to the natural or acquired 

248 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

moral virtues, which are known to human reason, to infidels 
and philosophers, as grace is superior to nature. The lat 
ter qualify us to honor and adore God as our highest Crea 
tor and Lord, and to do His bidding as humble servants ; the 
supernatural virtues, however, make us a royal priesthood, 
as St. Peter aptly remarks, loving and adoring God in 
union with His only-begotten Son, with a heavenly adora 
tion and honor, and bringing Him spiritual offerings that are 
sanctified by the Holy Ghost Himself. The natural virtues 
lead us to treat our fellow-man as co-citizen of an earthly 
empire, and to respect him as a rational being and natural 
image of God ; the supernatural virtues, however, teach us 
to live together as brethren in God and Christ, as "fellow- 
citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God," l to quote 
the Apostle, as members of a heavenly kingdom. With 
natural moral virtue we live, with regard to ourselves, as ra 
tional men, greatly superior to the animal fromthe dignity of 
our reason, naturally moral, modest, temperate, and chaste ; 
the supernatural virtues, however, so raise our spiritual life 
above the natural, as that of men is above the life of ani 
mals ; we walk not in our spirit, but in the Holy Ghost, 
who produces in us the fruits of a heavenly morality, meek- 
ness, temperance, chastity, and purity, and makes us like 
not only to the angels, but to God Himself. In a word, 
grace elevates and transforms not only our nature, but 
with it all our faculties, relations, and acts, and imparts to 
us virtue so noble, that its least and most insignificant act 
is infinitely more beautiful and precious than the sublimest 
acts of the most perfect natural virtue of man or angel. 
Yea, an act of supernatural virtue is almost as different 
from naturally virtuous acts, as the rational acts of man are 
different from those of merely sensual and animal life. 

2. These glorious virtues are the radiant nimbus which 
surrounds grace, the strong and fruitful branches which 
spring from it and overshadow our soul on all sides. They 
are the rich and infinitely varied ornaments on the royal 

1 Kph. ii. 19. 

The Supernatural Moral Virtues. 249 

robe, with which God clothes His spouse, as the Psalmist 
sings : " The queen stood on Thy right hand . . . surrounded 
with variety." 1 They are a precious crown, which God 
places upon the head of the children, and which the proph 
et in holy rapture contemplated adorning the angel of 
light, before he had yet lost grace by his pride. " Thou 
wast," said he to the angel, " the seal of resemblance, (of 
God), full of wisdom f and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in 
the pleasures of the paradise of God; every precious stone 
was thy covering ; thesardius, the topaz, and the jasper, the 
chrysolite, and the onyx, and the beryl, the sapphire, and the 
carbuncle, and the emerald." a 

If these precious stones in their manifold brilliance of 
color are a fit adornment for the brow of a queen, grace, 
connected with the varied heavenly brilliance of the super 
natural virtues, is a far more precious ornament for our soul 
and makes it the object of delight for the choirs of angels 
and the heart of God. Every virtue, even the natural, 
truly ennobles man and so adorns him, that we can behold 
nothing more beautiful and lovely on earth than an inno 
cent countenance which is the mirror of a virtuous soul. 
How beautiful, then, must the lines of these heavenly vir 
tues adorn our soul, which God draws and forms in our 
hearts with the finger of His right hand, as the Holy Scrip 
ture calls the Holy Ghost ! What nobility, what splendor, 
what grace and beauty must they add to the soul ! If 
philosophers in the light of reason already consider and 
represent virtue as the highest good of man, for which 
every other good ought to be sacrificed, how much must 
we, in the light of f ai th, appreciate and love these super 
natural virtues and be intent on nothing more than on ac 
quiring them with grace, on increasing and preserving 
them ! 

Moreover, the supernatural virtues have besides their sub 
lime nature and in virtue of it, this other advantage over 
the natural virtues, that they may be acquired in a moment 

1 Ps. xliv. 11. 2 Ezech. xxviii. 12, 13. 

250 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

without much labor and trouble, air advantage which ought 
to endear them still more to us. The natural virtues are 
the fruit of our own labor and we must devote much labor 
and effort and often a very long time to their acquisition. 
The supernatural virtues,, however, are so sublime, that 
with all possible labor, with the application of all our en 
ergies, and in an endless period of time, we cannot acquire 
the least degree of such virtues. They are the fruit of the 
Holy Ghost, who infuses them into us, and whose grace, as 
St. Ambrose says, knows no tardiness in action. They 
all enter our heart in the same moment, when we receive 
grace and charity in justification. Their exercise, it is 
true, does not so suddenly become easy and pleasant for 
us, as long as our evil inclinations and habits are opposed 
to them. But they give us light and strength to overcome 
and remove these obstacles, and render even the severest 
self-mortification that may be required in their practice so 
indescribably pleasant, that we can soon exercise them like 
wise with facility and delight. 

3. We ought, then, to thank God for rendering these sub 
lime virtues so easily accessible to us and for infusing them 
so copiously and generously with His grace and charity. 
However, as they are inseparably united to sanctifying 
grace and charit} 7 , and form, as it were, the retinue of 
these, so they are lost along with these by every mortal sin, 
and one moment suffices to destroy at one blow all of them 
in our heart. Faith and hope may remain in the sinner, 
without charity ; but all other virtues stand and fall with 
charity, which is their root and motive power, or at least 
they scarcely leave a shadow of their former glory to re 
main in the soul. For by giving up the sublime state of 
grace we likewise lose the faculty of living conformably to 
this state and of exercising those exalted functions, which 
correspond to its sublime dignity. 

fearful power of sin, which like a terrible flash of 
lightning in one moment withers all these beautiful blos 
soms of heavenly virtue in our soul, and mercilessly de- 

The Supernatural Moral Virtues. 251 

stroys even their roots ! sadly perverted soul, which is 
suddenly stripped of all its ornament, cast from the 
summit of its exalted station, and covered with the filth of 
vice and sensual, beastly desire ! sad desolation, sad 
der than even the destruction of the glory of Jerusalem, 
which the prophet Jeremias so deeply laments ! 

The lamentations of this prophet are yet far more appro 
priate to the soul that has lost sanctifying grace : "How 
is it the gold becomes dim, the finest color is changed, the 
stones of the sanctuary are scattered in the top of every 
street? The nolle sons of S ion, and they that were, clothed 
with the lest gold ; hoiv are they esteemed as earthen ves 
sels, the work of the potter s hands 9 They that were fed 
delicately have died in the streets : they that were brought up 
in scarlet, have embraced the dung. Her Nazarites were 
whiter than snow, purer than milk, more ruddy than the old 
ivory, fairer than the sapphire. Their face is now made 
blacker than coals, and they are not known in the streets : 
their skin hath stuck to their bones : it is withered and is he- 
come like ivood." l 

This sad picture of the destruction of Jerusalem is but a 
faint image of the graceless soul, which before in grace was 
the spiritual city of God. Whilst before the soul was a 
holy temple of God, built up of heavenly virtues, a reflex 
of His own glory, now by sin, as by a terrible storm, all 
its precious stones have been torn asunder and dis 
persed. Whilst before it was fed by the precious, 
heavenly fruit of virtue, and was royally adorned by the 
pearls of holy sentiments, it now seeks the food of animals 
and wallows in the mire of beastly lust. Whilst before it 
stood erect in the full vigor of youth, now its marrow is 
dried up, its strength is gone ; it lies weak and powerless, 
to the joy and derision of its enemies. And yet, how few 
deplore this desolation, even when they are, not like 
Jeremias, seated upon its ruins, but lie buried beneath them, 
and have wrought this destruction with their own hands ! 
1 Lament, iv- 1-8, 

252 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

What is the strength of Samson, the terror of the Phil 
istines, compared with that Divine strength, which confers 
the supernatural virtues and makes vice and hell tremble ? 
And yet we are incensed and angry at the foolish man, 
who betrays the secret of his great strength, known only to 
himself, to the curiosity and fickleness of a woman ! But 
we are not angered at ourselves, who betray the sublime pow 
er of our soul to our bitterest enemy, holding our arms out 
to him, that he may cut them off, our sinews to be bound, 
so that we can neither fight him nor flee from him ! Is 
this not the case, when by sin we open the door of our soul 
to the tempter, since he comes only to destroy its supernat 
ural power and then to lay it in fetters ? 

But if we do not act so much as traitors towards our 
selves, yet we often keep this heavenly treasure, this source 
of all blessings and fruits in peace, and of all auxiliaries in 
war, this nerve of our supernatural life and our merits, con 
cealed in great part and as it were hidden in a chest and 
forgot, that we must give the strictest account of its invest 
ment. Let us then be more prudent in the future ; let us 
by careful cultivation reap the greatest profit from this Di 
vine plantation in our soul, let us incessantly exercise all 
these virtues, that they may bring their author ever great 
er glory and more abundant profit. 


By Grace we receive the Seven Gifts of the Holy 

Ghost which are accompanied by the Eight 

Beatitudes of Christ and the Fruits 

of the Holy Ghost. 


| HOUGH the supernatural virtues, which grace 
infuses into our soul, be great and glorious, yet 
they are not all and are not the greatest thing 
that we receive by grace from the Holy Ghost. Though 
these infused virtues are also gifts of the Holy Ghost, which 
are bestowed by Him and make us possessors of and 
like unto Him, yet there are other gifts, which are yet 
more particularly attributed to Him and are distinguished 
above the others by being called, in a special sense, gifts of 
the Holy Ghost. 

The supernatural virtues, indeed, give us the power and 
faculty to perform supernaturally good and Divine works 
and to lead a supernatural life. Yet this life is so sublime, 
the path to Heaven so arduous, that the same Holy Spirit, 
who has given us these virtues as means for our ascent, 
must Himself raise us up and, as it were, carry us on 
ward. The virtues are the roots from which our heavenly 
life must spring up. But besides these roots, there are re 
quired the leaves and the cups to imbibe light and warmth 
from above. The virtues are the rudder, by which we 
steer the ship of our soul over the stormy ocean of time in 
to the port of eternity, the pinions upon which we are to 
rise above all created nature to Heaven and to God. But 
we are too weak alone to move this powerful rudder and 
these strong wings, and even if we were able to do this, yet 

254 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Heaven is too distant from curtli and too far above us, 
for us of our own selves to bring the ship to the heaven 
ly port. Therefore,, the same Holy Spirit, who has given us 
the rudder and the wings, must also give us sails, which He 
Himself must swell, who appeared as a mighty wind to the 
Apostles on Pentecost day ; He must Himself, as a strong 
wind that comes from Heaven and returns thither, sup 
port our flight and with His own hand bear us upward. 

2. Now, these sails, these faculties, bestowed upon our 
soul by grace, by means of which our soul can easily bo 
moved by the Holy Ghost to the most sublime activity, 
these, according to St. Thomas, constitute what we call 
the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. 

They are seven in number, because there are seven prin 
cipal supernatural virtues, which the Holy Ghost culti 
vates, develops, and stimulates into activity in us. 
| The gift of Wisdom corresponds to supernatural love ; 
for wisdom is, according to the explanation of theologians, 
that knowledge of the highest good which makes us relish 
its Divine sweetness, and thereby kindles and inflames our 

The gift of Understanding enlightens faith and fills it 
with so bright a light, that we experience in this life al 
ready a foretaste of future vision ; it teaches us to under 
stand the mysteries that we believe, and to so penetrate 
into their depth, as if we beheld them with our bodily 
eyes ; it represents Divine truth to us in an ever brighter 
light and induces us to adhere to it ever more closely. 

The gift of Counsel is related to the virtue of hope. By 
it the Holy Ghost comes to us as the best and truest Coun 
sellor and Comforter, as He was promised us by our Sav 
iour ; He counsels us to desire and to sigh after the eter 
nal and heavenly good only, and " Himself asketh for -us 
in unspeakable groanings" as the Apostle says. lie further 
counsels us to place a very firm and unshaken confi 
dence in God alone, and to embrace and hold Him as a 
pledge and surety of our hope. 

fr:,_ Rewards of Grace. 255 

/ The gift of Fortitude assists and quickens the virtue of 
fortitude and patience, that it may not succumb even in 
the greatest dangers. It animates our courage, so that we, 
out of love for God, undertake ever greater and more dif 
ficult works, and never relax or despair in our high en 

The gift of Science unites with the virtue of prudence, 
and endows it with a greater clearness and security in dis 
cerning right from wrong. It is a luminous and holy in 
stinct of the Holy Ghost, which securely and distinctly in 
forms us what God requires of us, even when all resources 
of natural prudence fail. 

The gift of Piety fosters and perfects in us the virtue of 
justice towards God and man. It makes our will pliant, 
devout, and yielding to all the demands of justice, so 
that we satisfy them, not only as the severity of the law 
commands, but with deep devotion and sincere affec 

The gift of Holy Fear, finally, confirms and calls into ac 
tion the virtue of temperance. It inspires us with a holy 
reverence for the infinite majesty of God and a deep con 
viction of our own lowliness, and thus guards us against 
the inflations of pride. The fear of the Lord pierces our 
flesh, as the Psalmist says, and thus bridles and restrains 
the motions of concupiscence and prevents it from trans 
gressing the bounds of modesty and holy propriety which 
virtue imposes upon us. 

Thus the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are, so to speak, 
the motive power in the supernatural faculties of virtue, 
which invests them with a wonderful energy and elasticity. 
They form our soul into a pliable tool in the hands of the 
Holy Ghost, by means of which He produces the grandest 
and most glorious works ; into an instrument, strung with 
golden chords, from which He elicits the sweetest tones, 
that ascend even unto Heaven and by their wonderful har 
mony delight the angels and God Himself. They are the 
seven lamps upon the candlestick of seven branches, that 

256 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

were alternately kept burning day and night before the ark 
of the covenant. They burn in the daytime during the per 
formance of good works, and in the night of temptation to 
preserve us from the snares of sin, and to expose the de 
lusions of the devil. And as the cups of these lamps in 
the temple are explained by some learned interpreters to 
have been wrought in the form of an ear, so the gifts of 
the Holy Ghost furnish our soul with spiritual ears, that it 
may hear the grateful inspirations of the Holy Ghost, and 
interiorly receive them. 

These seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are given us in and 
-^by sanctifying grace, just like the supernatural virtues. 
For, since grace is a participation of the Divine nature, it 
must bring with it all those dispositions, be they ever so 
sublime, which are necessary for the development of super- 
natural life. Since it unites us so intimately with the 
Holy Ghost, it must also grant us all that which we require 
to be moved by Him. It must grant us these gifts, further 
more, because the supernatural virtues can scarcely be im 
agined without an inherent motive power. 

Oh, how rich and beautiful does sanctifying grace ap 
pear again under this aspect, making us so similar to the 
Incarnate Son of God, that the words of the Prophet 
Isaias may also be applied to us : " And the Spirit of the 
Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and of 
understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the 
spirit of knowledge and of godliness, and he shall befitted 
with the spirit of the fear of the Lord." The same Holy 
Spirit, who rested upon the humanity of the Son of God, 
comes to us also, when we are in the state of grace, and 
not only transiently, but to remain with us with His seven 
gifts. He constantly hovers over our soul, fructifies us 
with His heavenly dew, illumines us with His Divine 
light, and impels us onward as a strong roaring wind. 

But how great, how infinitely great, then, must the 
loss of grace be ! The ship of our soul, which before 

Rewards of Grace. 257 

under purple sail sped onward over the stormy ocean 
of time towards the port of eternity, is suddenly be 
reft of all sail, and in dead calm lies motionless in mid- 
ocean at the mercy of the whirling waves that draw it 
down into the deep. Whilst before it was a precious im 
plement employed in the hands of the Holy Ghost for the 
greatest works, a beautiful instrument producing the 
most pleasing melodies, it is now cast away ; its strength is 
gone, its chords are broken, it is a frail, dried piece of 
wood, that can serve no other purpose but to be thrown 
into the fire and burned. From an instrument of the 
Holy Ghost, it becomes the tool and plaything of the dev 
il, who now, when it has lost these gifts, uses it and 
moves it about at his pleasure. 

4. For as these seven gifts of the Holy Ghost animate 
and strengthen the seven principal virtues, so they, with in 
vincible power, ward off from the soul and conquer the 
seven-headed monster of capital sin and of temptation to 

Filial fear of the greatness of God conquers and hum 
bles the capital sin of pride. Piety, by which we guile 
lessly render and wish every one his due, dispels envy and 
malice. The gift of knowledge saves us from that danger 
ous madness which anger produces in us. Fortitude de 
stroys sloth and that lassitude of the soul which makes it 
incapable of withstanding the assaults of sin. The gift of 
counsel liberates us from covetousness, by teaching us 
that our temporal goods are best invested in the purchas 
ing of eternal goods, and that so invested, they will not be 
lost, but will bring fruit a hundred-fold. The gift of under 
standing protects us against gluttony, since by it we relish 
the sweetness of the heavenly food, the knowledge of heav 
enly things, and learn to despise sensual enjoyments. Wis 
dom, finally, keeps us from luxury, by filling our heart with 
the purest heavenly love, thus smothering impure and 
animal affections. 

When, therefore, by losing sanctifying grace, we lose 

258 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

these seven gifts also, sin raises its sevenfold head in 
our soul, subjects it to its power, and lacerates it in the 
most cruel manner with the violent stings of passion, as 
the serpent attacks and wounds the bird that has its wings 
broken and falls to the ground. Yet we alone are to be 
blamed for this inestimable misfortune; for by committing 
the first sin we have torn ourselves loose from the hand of 
the Holy Spirit, which carried us to Heaven, and we have 
precipitated ourselves into a bottomless abyss. Oh, that we, 
instead of so frivolously casting grace away, surrendered 
ourselves entirely to an infinite love, so that by its sweet 
gifts, its powerful impulse, its mighty hand, it might raise 
us ever higher, enrich us ever more, and grant us in this 
life already a foretaste of that sweetness which it has pre 
pared for us in Heaven ! 

5. For by the acts of the seven virtues which we per 
form under the impulse and with the help of the seven 
gifts of the Holy Ghost, we acquire likewise the eight be 
atitudes which our Saviour has promised us in the Ser 
mon on the Mount. These beatitudes also are really * 
seven in number, for the eighth, the kingdom of Heav 
en, is none other than the first. The conditions, like 
wise, for acquiring these beatitudes, are seven, according 
to St. Augustine, because the eighth, " to suffer persecution 
for justice sake," contains in itself and crowns all the dif 
ferent degrees and parts of justice. Thus, according to 
this holy teacher, they correspond in number and order to 
the gifts of the Holy Ghost and to the supernatural virtues, 
of which they are the fruit. 

The gift of fear and the virtue of temperance make us, 
truly, poor in spirit, by mortifying our self-conceit and our 
desire of earthly goods, and thus secure for us the kingdom 
of God, with its sublime sovereignty and abundant riches. 
By the gift of piety and the virtue of justice, we prac 
tise true meekness, live in peace and harmony witlj our 
fellow-men, and thus deserve undisturbed possession 01 the 
land of promise. By the gift of knowledge and the virtue of 

Re wa rds of Gra ce. 259 

prudence we acquire holy sorrow, and perceiving the vanity 
of earthly things, and of human means, we may seek and 
find our consolation and tranquillity in God. The gift of 
fortitude and the virtue of fortitude create in us a growing 
hunger and thirst after justice, which will hereafter be 
satisfied by God with all heavenly blessings. The gift of 
counsel induces us above all to practise mercy towards our 
neighbor,, that we may obtain mercy with God, and this 
increases and confirms the virtue of hope. The gift of 
understanding and the virtue of faith plunge our heart 
in the Divine light, purify it ever more from sensual at 
tachment, and thus procure us i\\&i purity of heart which 
makes us worthy to see God in Heaven face to face. 
The gift of wisdom, finally, and the virtue of charity, tend 
to unite us ever more intimately with God and with our 
neighbor in the enjoyment of the highest good, which implies 
that peace, which makes us true and perfect children of God^- 

And these beatitudes, which we are to expect in a fu 
ture life and to merit by a zealous application of the gifts 
of the Holy Ghost and of the supernatural virtues, these 
we ma} r , according to St. Thomas, enjoy already in this life 
to a certain extent. Even now we may esteem ourselves 
heirs of Heaven, sovereigns over the earth, and children 
of God. Even now we are consoled by the Holy Ghost in 
our sorrow, our hunger and thirst are satisfied; even now we 
experience the sweet consciousness of God s mercy towards 
us, behold God with the eyes of a pure heart, though it be 
in the dim light of faith only, and we may thus possess 
Heaven already on earth. 

G. Therefore, says St. Thomas, does the Apostle speak of 
Fruits of the Holy Ghost, whose sweetness and loveliness we 
may enjoy in this life already; not only of blossoms that 
will ripen only in time of harvest and whose fruit can be 
gathered only after some time. The fruits, however, that 
he designates, are nothing else than the exercise and ap 
plication of supernatural virtues and of the gifts of the Holy 
Ghost. " The fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, 

260 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, 
modesty, continency, chastity." The very name of these 
glorious fruits proclaims not only their heavenly beauty, but 
also their precious flavor and sweet fragrance, which de 
light and refresh our heart. This is especially true of the 
first three, which are, so to speak, the life of the others ; 
for charity is the mother and root of all other acts of 
virtue, and communicates to them that heavenly joy and 
ineffable peace which it receives itself from the aspiration 
of the Holy Ghost, who is eternal charity. 

Well may we apply, therefore, to the Holy Ghost and 
His gifts those beautiful words which in Holy Scripture 
Eternal Wisdom applies to itself ; for the spirit of truth 
and of eternal wisdom is none other than the Holy Spirit, 
and wisdom is His highest and most precious gift : " I took 
root in an honorable people, and in the portion of my God, 
and my abode is in the full assembly of saints. 1 was exalt 
ed like a cedar in Libanus, like a palm-tree in Cades, as the 
olive tree in the plains. I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon, 
and dramatical balm : I yielded a sweet odor like the best 
myrrh : . . . I have stretched out my brandies as the turpen 
tine tree, and my branches are of honor and grace. As the 
vine I have brought forth a pleasant odor : and my flowers 
are the fruit of honor and riches. I am the mother of fair 
love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In 
me is all grace of the ivay and of the truth, in me is all 
hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that 
desire me, and be filled with my fruits. For my spirit is 
sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the 
honeycomb. . . . They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and 
they that drink me, shall yet thirst. He that hearkencth to 
me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall 
not sin. They that explain me, shall have life everlasting." 

7. How may you, then, dear Christian, hesitate even a 
moment to follow this pleasant invitation of the Holy 
Ghost and His grace, which promises you such sweet fruit 

1 Gal. v. 22, 23. 2 Eccli. xxiv. 16-31 . 

Rewards of Grace. 261 

and heavenly enjoyment ? But should the testimony of in 
fallible Divine truth not suffice for you, then come and learn 
from experience how great is the sweetness of the Holy 
Ghost. " taste,, and see, that the Lord is sweet" cries 
the Psalmist. You would certainly not throw away un- 
tasted an unknown fruit which you had heard praised and 
commended very highly. Come, then, likewise, to the 
grace of the Holy Ghost and taste its fruit ; receive grace 
within you, cultivate and cherish it in you, and let it 
operate in you. Very soon, and even in the first moment 
in which you turn from your sins to God in sincere con 
trition, you will experience a peace and a joy which the 
world cannot give ; you will learn from your own self how 
sweet the Lord and His grace are, and will not so easily be 
deceived again by the vain joys of this world. 

It would, then, be unpardonable if we lost the grace, to 
gether with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, or did not zeal 
ously endeavor to recover them as soon as possible. 
Equally unpardonable would it be if, whilst in the state of 
grace, we placed obstacles to the work of the Holy Ghost, 
and did not faithfully and zealously co-operate with His 
grace. The Holy Ghost desires, as the Apostle teaches, by 
His seven gifts to transform us more and more into the 
image of God from glory to glory. He will raise the struc 
ture of the temple of God higher and higher, until it reach 
es to Heaven. How ungrateful, how wicked and foolish 
would it be to restrain the master-hand of this Divine artist 
in His glorious work ! 

In the famous city of Athens a law was passed that any 
one who should cut off the hand of the sculptor Phidias, 
who had adorned the city with the most beautiful statues 
and works of art, would be considered a traitor to his coun 
try. Yet what is this artist who from lifeless stones 
sculptured images of false gods and of mortal men, when 
compared to the Holy Ghost, who, with infinite power, out 
of men forms living images of the highest and true God ? 
And yet we restrain His hand, which we cannot cut off, 

262 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

when we resist His grace, and wrest from it its wonderful 
instrument when we trifle with His grace, and permit His 
inspiration to be carried off by the winds of our concu 
piscence ! Yet we prove ourselves hard and brittle stones, 
who will not yield to the delicate strokes of this Divine 
instrument, and will not be transformed into the image 
of God ! Must He not thus finally grow tired of our resist 
ance, and though He had selected us to be ornaments of 
Heaven, in the end cast us away, and deliver us over to 
perdition ? 

Certainly we have deserved this, and our lot would then 
be the sadder, the higher the honor was for which we 
were destined. Let .us, then, beware in future of placing 
obstacles in the way of the Holy Ghost in this unremitting 
labor, and no longer grieve Him by our stubbornness. Let 
us rather endeavor to offer Him a soft and pliable heart, 
which He can impress as He pleases. Let us entreat Him 
to melt our heart by His holy fire, that it may become im 
pressible as wax, and not require the chisel, but only the 
seal to receive pure and perfect the image of God. Though 
even if He should use the chisel to crush the hardness of 
our heart, and we should tremble under His powerful 
strokes, let us not take fright and withdraw from Him ! 
The pain that we feel will soon be converted into the 
sweetest joy, and this trembling is a trembling of delight 
and exultation, caused by the flood of light and hitherto 
unknown happiness which overwhelms the heart and which 
it cannot comprehend. 


Sanctifying Grace brings with it the Supernatural 
Actual Grace of the Holy Ghost. 


1HILST we dwell so largely upon the glories and 
the power of sanctifying grace, we must not 
forget, or consider unworthy of notice, the so- 
called actual graces of God. * 

Without these actual graces, sanctifying grace, as we 
shall see directly, is not sufficient to lead a supernatural 
life. Yet withal it is the principal and most important 
element in this life. Sanctifying grace brings actual 
graces along with it, and is necessarily followed by them ; 
it is, moreover, the specific principle of life for supernatural 
acts, whilst the others are only incitements to them. On the 
other hand, the actual graces serve, with our co-operation, 
to introduce the sanctifying grace into our soul, or to in 
crease it. Since, therefore, sanctifying grace is the end, 
and in large part, also, the principle of the other graces, it 

1 Strictly speaking, sanctifying grace is also actual in the sense that it is an 
actual reality, a really existing quality of the soul, not only a relation or an idea 
of the mind. It is besides active, or operative, because it qualifies and inclines the 
soul to supernatural acts. Yea, as a permanent transformation of the soul, of its 
faculties as well as its substance, it has a far more solid reality than so-called 
actual graces, and as a principle of life, as a special radical capacity for action, it has 
a greater efficiency than actual graces, which are only transient sparks of life 
and incitements to action. Nevertheless, these are particularly called actual, 
because they consist in perceptible interior illuminations and affections, and ac 
tuate and give evidence of sanctifying grace, which in itself is not so perceptible. 
Besides, these actual graces must occasion supernatural action, and determine the 
soul thereto. That, however, which proximately occasions supernatural action and 
determines the soul to act, appears as the principal cause and characteristic of 
such action, and is, therefore, denominated active and operative. We cannot prob 
ably find an expression that is entirely unequivocal; but the usual acceptation of 
the term sufficiently specifies the meaning. 

264 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

follows that all glories and privileges of the actual graces 
redound to the greater glory of sanctifying grace. 

In this place we will only speak of the necessity of actual 
grace and its intimate connection with sanctifying grace ; 
later on, in the fifth book,, we will explain how it prepares 
the way and leads to sanctifying grace. 

Even when in the state oj grace, we constantly require 
for every supernatural good work a special incitation of 
the Holy Ghost. Though in the supernatural virtues, and 
in the gifts of the Holy Ghost, we have the power and dis 
position to perform such acts, yet this power must be 
moved, by a special impulse of the Holy Ghost, to place 
the individual act. 

Even the natural faculties of the soul cannot pass into 
active operation without a stimulus from without, which 
rouses them from their inaction, and impels them to 
act. Since a supernatural power, now, cannot be aroused in 
to action by natural things ; since such a power is less 
properly our own, and, therefore, less under our control 
than the natural powers, the Holy Ghost, who has given 
us the power, must also influence and move it to develop 
itself, and this influence we call actual grace. ^ 

The plant, even in the fulness of its vitality, requires the 
nourishing elements, light and heat, and a congenial 
atmosphere and climate. The nobler the plant is the 
purer must be the atmosphere, the milder the climate 
to furnish it the requisite nourishment and the suitable 
degree of light and heat. In like manner the germ of 
supernatural life cannot develop in our soul, excepting 
under the influence of a supernatural atmosphere and a 
supernatural sun a supernatural atmosphere that feeds 
it with heavenly dew and ruin, and a supernatural sun that 
irradiates it with heavenly light, and fosters it with heav 
enly warmth. It can only develop under the constant 
influence of God, in whom we live, move, and are, as we exist 
and move in air. True natural life also can develop only 
under the influence of God, just as the polar plants must 

Actual Grace of the Holy Ghost. 265 

be enveloped by the same atmosphere,, and receive light 
and warmth from the same sun as the tropical plants. 
But as the tropical plants exist in a far warmer re 
gion of the atmosphere, and must be nearer the sun, and 
receive its influence in a very different manner from the 
polar plants ; so must the soul, in supernatural life and 
thought, approach God incomparably nearer, and receive 
an incomparably higher influence from Him, than in its 
natural life. The Holy Spirit Himself must animate the 
germ of supernatural virtues with His own breath, imbue 
them with His own light, diffuse His own warmth in them, 
and only thus can they develop a Divine life. 

Moreover, we must, by the acts that we perform in 
the state of grace, rise continually higher, always ascending 
a higher degree of grace. But we are unable to do this alone, 
even with the grace that we already possess, because no one 
can be elevated above His condition without the help of a 
higher agency. Therefore, the Holy Ghost must again ex 
tend to us His hand to draw us upward, He must induce us 
to aspire to a higher degree of grace, and assist us to reach it. 

For this the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are not suf 
ficient ; for though they excite us more to supernatural 
action than do the infused virtues, nevertheless they indi 
cate a condition, and are, therefore, dormant qualities of 
our soul, which, likewise, require an additional influence of 
the Holy Ghost. They are only the sail, by means of 
which the ship of our soul will arrive at the port of Heav 
en ; but this sail must be swelled and driven by the power 
ful aspiration of the Holy Ghost. The gifts of the Holy 
Ghost make our soul a pliant and obedient instrument of 
the Holy Ghost, but an instrument must actually be used 
and put in motion by the master to produce any effect, 
and this is done by actual grace. 

Finally, every man in the state of justice requires ac 
tual grace, not only for every supernatural good work, but 
besides this, especially to avoid mortal sin in case of a 
grave temptation, and likewise to avoid the many venial 

266 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

sins to which human frailty exposes him at every moment. 

In a word,, actual grace has almost the same influence 
upon supernatural life,, and the principle of supernatural 
life sanctifying grace as light and nourishment have 
upon the development of natural life, and as medicine has 
for the weakness and disease of such life. 

The sinner, in the state of sin, enjoys not even the habit 
or condition required for all necessary, supernatural acts. 
Therefore the actual assistance of the Holy Ghost is far 
more necessary for him. Besides, in the state of mortal 
sin, man is constantly averted from God ; he is bowed 
down by the whole frailty of our corrupt nature, since 
there is no corresponding counter-balance to hold him up ; 
his passions are in full activity and hurry him on from sin 
to sin, from one abyss to another. He is that carnal, God 
forsaken man, whom the Apostle pictures in such dread 
ful colors, that man who sighs under the yoke of sin, 
from which his own unaided effort cannot liberate him. 

2. After this preliminary explanation, we say : sancti 
fying grace alone makes us worthy of the actual assistance 
of the Holy Ghost, as long as it resides in our heart. 

Sanctifying grace makes us children of God ; as such, 
however, we deserve that our heavenly Father, by the in 
fluence of His Holy Spirit, should develop, foster, and pre 
serve our heavenly life, that He should strengthen and en 
lighten us, guide us in all our ways and not desert us unless 
we have deserted Him. As God must give light to the eye, 
to which He has given the faculty of sight, for without light 
it cannot employ this faculty, as He must give to plants and 
animals their specific nourishment, without which they can 
not develop their life, cannot arrive at their natural perfec 
tion and preserve themselves from a premature death, so 
must He, in our case, when we have by grace received the 
power of a supernatural life, grant us the influence of that 
light, and the strength of that nourishment, without which 
this life could not develop or be saved from speedy destruc 

Actual Grace of the Holy Ghost. 267 

By grace we are furthermore made living members of 
Christ. " Christ, however," says the holy Council of 
Trent/ " incessantly imparts His strength to the justified, 
as the head imparts strength to the members and the vine to 
its branches; and their good works are preceded and accom 
panied and followed by this strength, and without it they 
could in no wise be acceptable to God and meritorious." 

The supernatural assistance of the Holy Ghost, then, by 
sanctifying grace, becomes in a manner natural, because by 
this grace we have ourselves been invested with a new, heav 
enly nature. This assistance is a staff plaeed in our hand and 
left to us, until we ourselves cast it away; it always surrounds 
us, as the light of the sun surrounds us and never with 
draws itself from us, excepting when we close our eyes or 
put them out. When in grace the Holy Ghost dwells in 
so mysterious a manner in our innermost soul, He con 
stantly influences our heart, and impels us to the good ; 
He constantly addresses us, teaches us every truth, exhorts 
us to good works, and warns us against sin ; He strength 
ens us in the hour of danger, and supports us when we are 
about to stumble and fall. The words of Moses in refer 
ence to Israel are then verified again in us : "77/0 
Lord led him about and taught him : and he kept him as 
the apple of His eye. As the eagle enticing her young to fly, 
and hovering over them, He spread His wings and hath tak 
en him and carried him on His shoulders." 2 

3. Oh, how happy are we, then, in the state of grace ! 
How easy is for us the practice of virtue, how secure are we 
against the dangers of sin, and against the craftiest and 
mightiest temptations of hell. Well might we exclaim with 
the Apostle: 3 "If God he for us, who is against us? 
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ 9 " How 
secure may we, then, not only walk in the ways of God, 
without striking our foot against a stone, but even run and 
fly and attain to the highest point of perfection ! 

1 Sess. vi. c. 7G, de Justif. 2 Deut. xxxil. 10, II. 3 Rom. viii. 31, 35. 

268 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Yet equally unhappy are we, when by sin we have fallen 
from this high and secure state of the grace of God. Then 
the assistance of the Holy Ghost is incomparably more nec 
essary for us, and at the same time our claim to it is in 
finitely less, or rather we have no claim at all. Even in 
this state God will never forsake us, as long as we live on 
earth, since in His infinite mercy He wills not -the death 
of the sinner, but that he should be converted and live. 
God eternally condemns and casts away no one upon earth. 
But we are not worthy of this assistance, we have nothing 
to deserve it, but much to render us unworthy of it. 

Without sanctifying grace we possess the claims and 
rights of our purely human nature only. Yet how could 
these merit for us the supernatural assistance of the Holy 
Ghost ? This is a free gift of God, who thereby descends 
from on high and bears us up to -Heaven. Our nature 
can lay as little claim to this assistance as it can to the 
grace of the sonship of God. For by nature we are only 
servants of God, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost prop 
erly belong to those only who by Him are made children of 
God, and participants of the Divine nature. 

To this absence of worthiness in our nature sin adds a 
positive unworthiness, so great, that even if naturally we 
had a right to the assistance of the Holy Ghost, it would 
deprive us of this right. Sin not only obtains us no new gifts 
from God, but deserves the severest punishment and the 
loss of those gifts which we already possess. Much more, 
then, are we unworthy of the heavenly gifts of the Holy 
Ghost, if we return the deepest ingratitude and insulting 
contempt for the great abundance of these gifts, if we cruel 
ly expel the Holy Ghost Himself from our soul, when 
He so kindly and graciously deigns to dwell therein ! 

Indeed, fearful must be the condition of our soul, when 
by sin we have deserted the fountain of the living water of 
grace, and receive but a few drops of this grace only by a 
special mercy of God ; when we have closed the dwelling 
of our heart to the Divine Sun, and a few rays only of this 

Actual Grace of the Holy Ghost. 269 

Sun, almost by a miracle, find their way into it, then the 
heavenly dew no longer fructifies a soil planted with living 
germs ; then the sparks of grace no longer strike on eas 
ily ignitible tinder ; then the Holy Ghost no longer finds 
a pliant, living instrument, which He may direct and use 
at pleasure. The consequence can be no other than that 
we deviate ever more from the path of virtue, sink ever 
deeper into the mire of sin, until finally we become inca 
pable of heavenly assistance. 

For if the Holy Ghost withdraws His assistance from 
you and leaves you to your own resources, how will you 
then check your headlong course down the steep precipice 
of sin, how will you withstand the Avhirling torrent that 
has seized you, how will you break the chains by which 
hell is dragging you into its abyss, or prevent yourself from 
being daily fettered with new chains ? Though the Holy 
Ghost grants you some assistance, yet, unless you employ 
it to return speedily into the state of grace, you render 
yourself unworthy of even this assistance, and run the risk 
of being soon left to your own fate. But what can you 
expect of your own self, when you are naught but weakness 
and misery ? How will you be able to cope alone, not only 
with your own passion and concupiscence, but with all the 
powers of hell, as the Apostle says : " Our wrestling is 
not against flesh and Hood : but against principalities and 
powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness" 9 
This terrible supernatural enemy can be conquered only 
by a mighty supernatural power, and you will not be cer 
tain of this power for any length of time, unless you re 
cover grace. 

4. Return, then, speedily into the bosom of your God, 
seek refuge under His wings and conceal yourself in the re 
cesses of His tent, where you will be secure against all ene 
mies. And lest in future you might again become a prey to 
sin, perhaps for all eternity, make a good use, in the state 
of grace, of all the many gifts and resources which the 

1 Eph. vi. 12. 

270 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Holy Ghost offers you. llemember that all those who 
lose grace by mortal sin have brought themselves to this 
only by neglect or contempt of the assistance so abundant 
ly proffered them before. For God permits no one to fall 
into mortal sin who has not before rejected His powerful 
assistance, and forsakes no one who has not first forsaken 

But that precisely is our misfortune, that, when in the 
state of grace, with base ingratitude we stifle the inspira 
tions of the Holy Spirit, will not heed His counsel, rebel 
against His wholesome restraint, withstand His holy im 
pulses, instead of zealously and faithfully corresponding to 
them and improving every single grace. This ingratitude 
towards God makes us unworthy of further graces, and es 
pecially those great graces which we require in the hour of 
danger. For how can God suffer us to treat so slightingly 
and contemptuously that which He grants us so generously 
and lovingly ? How can He suffer us to cast away the 
graces that have cost Him the blood of His only-begotten 
Son, that are each of an infinite value ? How can He suf 
fer us to trifle with them, and thus to trample underfoot 
the precious blood of Christ ? He will do with us as with 
the foolish virgins. They would not provide the necessary 
oil for their lamps, and when they wanted it most, they 
could obtain none and were excluded from the marriage of 
the bridegroom. This will also be our lot, if we permit 
the oil of graces, which we are not asked to buy, but which 
is given us gratuitously in greatest abundance, to flow by 
and run to waste. "We will then, perhaps, in the moment 
of grave temptation, or in the hour of death, not receive 
as much as is necessary to keep our bridal lamps from 
going out. Thus will we be excluded from the perpetual 
marriage which our soul should celebrate as the spouse 
of the Son of God in the state of grace, and perhaps 
from the eternal marriage in Heaven. 

That we may escape this great misfortune, let us never 
again remain deaf to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, 

Actual Grace of the Holy Ghost. 271 

nor close our eyes to His light, nor counteract His powerful 
assistance. Then we shall experience that grace not only 
elevates our nature, but likewise heals all its infirmities and 
weaknesses, that it not only qualifies us for all good works 
and for heavenly merit, but that it also destroys sin, which 
had enslaved us, and guards us against relapse into sin. 


The Infinite Value which Grace communicates 
to our Works for meriting Eternal Glory. 

|E have already indicated that grace leads us, 
by means of the supernatural virtues and the 
gifts of the Hoi} Ghost, to heavenly glory and hap 
piness. It introduces us into Heaven, because it makes us 
true children of God and hence heirs of His Divine 
glory and happiness. Besides this, grace gives such a 
value to the works which proceed from it, that through 
these works we may merit and purchase Heaven ; so that 
God does not grant us Heaven gratuitously, from pure liber 
ality, nor simply in fidelity to His promises, but out of X 
strict justice, as a reward due to our works. 

True, God needed not to reward each of our good works. 
For as our Creator and Father He may justly demand all 
service and devotion from us, and on account of His infinite 
dignity and goodness fully deserves it. Hence, Heaven al 
ways is a grace ; the more so since sanctifying grace, which 
makes us heirs of Heaven, and all faculties, by which we 
perform supernatural works, are gratuitous gifts of God. 

Nevertheless Heaven, in the words of St. John, is a grace y 
for grace, i. e., a second grace which the first grace merits 
for us, and for which it qualifies us. 

By sanctifying grace we are made partakers of the Di 
vine nature, and true children of God, and the works 
which we perform in this grace are Divine, heavenly works. 
We thus stand in a relation of equality to heavenly glory, 
and when God promises us this glory, He promises it as an 

The Infinite Value of Grace. 273 

inheritance and a reward, which is not above the dignity of 
our person and the value of our works. 

A prince need not, absolutely speaking, reward either 
the services of his subjects or those of his children. If 
he would grant a great part of his kingdom to a subject in 
reward for faithful services, this would rather be a supreme 
favor than a just and equitable reward. The fidelity and 
love of his children, however, would be insufficiently re 
warded, if their reward were no greater than that of his 
subjects ; they might properly expect a share in his king 
dom and his power. 

We may apply the same to the heavenly King and His 
reward. The good works which we perform by nature 
only, as mere servants of God, have not been promised a 
heavenly reward by God, but they could not even expect 
such a reward ; they are in no proportion whatever to the 
dignity of heavenly happiness, and God would have too 
much depreciated the infinite value of His Heaven, by offer 
ing it for such a low and limited price. Even the 
supernatural works which we perform without the state of 
grace, by means of actual graces and the virtues of faith and 
hope, are not worthy of Heaven. Not even considering 
that by sin we are still enemies of God, we are not yet His 
children and do not adhere to Him in filial love. \Ve 
do not yet perform those works as heirs of Heaven and they 
can only serve to prepare our heart for this filial love and 
for the speedy reception of the grace of sonship through 
the merits of Christ. 

But when we have actually been made children of God 
by grace, and embrace Him with filial love, then all the 
good works that we perform with the help of grace are so 
many filial services, which God can reward worthily only 
with His kingdom and all the riches of His Heaven. 

It always remains true that, in the first place, Christ, the 
Son of God, and not we, merited Heaven, and that we can 
only merit it through Christ. The reason of this, however, 
is that we of ourselves, as sinners and servants of God, can- 

274 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

not merit the grace of sonship, which is given only 
through the infinite merits of Christ. But if this grace is 
so precious that it could be purchased only with the infi 
nitely precious blood of the Son of God, then it is evident 
that it has an infinite value itself, and consequently may 
communicate to the works performed in and by it a value 
sufficiently great to purchase the infinitely precious Heaven. 

The grace which the Son of God has merited for us makes 
us conformable to Christ, and makes us sharers in His Di 
vine dignity. Christ, however, as the true Son of God, ac 
quired an infinite merit by every action, even the slightest, 
that He performed in the service of His Father, by every 
drop of His precious blood and sweat. AYe now are 
adoptive children of God by the grace received from Him, 
and our dignity in this state gives all our good works a very 
high value in the eyes of our heavenly Father. The princi 
pal distinction between Christ and ourselves is this only ,^ that 
the merit of Christ was due to His natural dignity and was 
so abundant that it could suffice for all angels and men, 
whilst we have received our dignity through Him and can 
merit Heaven only for ourselves. 

Grace makes us, furthermore, living members of Christ, 
and temples of the Holy Ghost. As the members are 
united to the head in life and action, so are we connected 
with Christ. He lives and acts in His mystic members, 
and our actions become, as it were, the actions of Christ 
Himself. The children of God, says the Apostle, are led 
by the Spirit of God ; He is the soul and root of their life, 
and they are only as instruments that work and act in His 
power. " The Divine Spirit," says St. Francis of Sales, 
"acts in, by, and for us, so admirably, that though our ac 
tions are our own, they still belong more to Him than to 
ourselves. We perform them in Him, and by His direc 
tion, while He performs them in us ; we act for Him 
while He acts for us, and co-operate with Him while lie 
co-operates with MS." 1 The value and merit of our actions, 
J Love of God, B. II., C. 6. 

The Infinite Value of Grace. 275 

then, says St. Thomas Aquinas,, 1 is to be measured, not by 
our natural power and dignity, which is but finite, but by 
the infinite power and dignity of the Holy Ghost, who re 
sides in us. This is another reason why the Apostle so of 
ten calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of promise, the pledge 
of our inheritance, and the surety of our reward. 

2. incomprehensible dignity ! inexhaustible wealth 
of Divine grace, which is not only in itself such a great 
boon, but which is a source of innumerable other supernat 
ural and heavenly gifts, which has such a weight on the 
scales of God that it causes the insignificant works of poor 
miserable men to balance the entire Heaven ! 

"For that which is at present momentary and light of our 
tribulation, worJcethfor us above measure exceedingly an eter 
nal weight of glory." * What can give such a great weight to 
our troubles and sufferings, which in themselves are but 
trifles ? How can the one scale of a balance, which contains 
only a straw or a feather, have equal weight with the other, 
which is freighted with a talent, unless there be another 
weight added, equal to the talent ? All our power and labor 
is as chaff, compared to the excess of glory, which is the ob 
ject of Christian ambition, and "the sufferings of this pres 
ent time" according to the words of the Apostle, " are not 
worthy to he compared with it." Infinite, then, must be 
that weight, which so strengthens our insignificant powers 
and sufferings that we not only counterbalance the weight 
of glory, but even outweigh it. Such, now, is the weight of 
grace, such is its greatness and majesty, that the light 
chaff of our actions is made equal to the eternal and infi 
nite glory of Heaven, equal to the highest and most per 
fect good, to eternal and heavenly happiness. 

Without grace we may perform the greatest and most sub 
lime works ; we may convert entire nations, succor all the 
poor, devote our whole life to the honor and service of God ; 
we shall never merit even the slightest degree of heavenly 
glory. We may suffer all the tortures of the martyrs, 

1 1. 2. qu. 114, a. 3. 2 II. Cor. iv. 17. 

276 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

practise all the fasts and mortifications of the holy monks 
and hermits ; all that, without grace, is too little, or rather 
is nothing, to be rewarded even with the smallest drop of 
heavenly sweetness. With grace, however, we need not 
perform great things, or endure great suffering; we need 
only pronounce the blessed name of Jesus with devotion, 
give our neighbor a cup of water to drink, say a short 
prayer, or offer up to God a momentary, insignificant suf 
fering, and we have already merited Heaven. What dis 
tance between a pious word and eternal happiness, a drink 
of cold water and the heavenly banquet, a short, humble 
prayer and the kingdom of God, a momentary suffering 
and eternal bliss ! But in grace nothing is small and in 
significant. Dipped into grace, the chaff becomes purest 
gold ; filled with its rays, the drop of water becomes the 
brightest pearl, and thus every little good work by grace 
becomes of precious value, so that it may purchase for us 
the greatest treasure, Heaven and God Himself. 

3. If, then, it is grace which makes our works meritor 
ious before God, this merit increases with the degree of 
grace which we possess, and that for three reasons. 

Firstly, the higher we stand in grace before God, the 
greater is our dignity in His eyes, and this greater digni 
ty of our person is communicated to our works. Even 
among men are the labors of a person in higher dignity 
accounted more than those of an inferior person. A 
commander receives a better salary than a private soldier, 
though the latter must generally work and exert himself 
far more than the former. The same holds good in all 
departments of social life ; superiors receive more wages 
for less labor than inferiors. A similar distinction of 
rank is held before God by the souls according to the 
different degrees of grace, and the works of superiors 
here also merit more than those of others. It may thus 
happen that two just men give the same alms, practise the 
same mortification, and nevertheless the merit of the one 
is greater than that of the other. 

The Infinite Value of Grace. 277 

Secondly, we must not forget, on the other hand, that 
in his meritorious works the Christian offers up to God not 
only these works, but himself also. If he now appears 
greater and more worthy before God, and is more loved by 
Him on account of a greater abundance of grace, then he 
brings God a more valuable and acceptable offering than 
he who is poorer in grace. In reality he gives more than 
the latter, even if the work of both, considered in itself, 
were entirely equal. 

Thirdly, the intrinsic value of the action itself is en 
hanced by the higher degree, which the person that per 
forms it holds in grace, because he exercises not only an 
exterior, but an interior influence upon it and gives it a 
greater intrinsic merit. The heart of man is but a barren 
soil, which is fructified by the grace of God. Therefore, 
the supernatural virtues must bring better and sweeter 
fruit in a heart, which is more abundantly saturated with 
the dew of grace, than in another, which is not blessed with 
such abundance. 

The works, then, which are performed in both conditions, 
are unequal in their intrinsic value on account of the dif 
ference of their sources, even though they had the same 
object, the same good motive, and were performed with the 
same effort and exertion. When two persons make an act 
of love for God with equal exertion, the act of one may be 
incomparably more perfect and worthy than that of the 
other, because with grace his love is incomparably greater 
than that of the other. And so two persons may give the 
same alms to the poor, with the same good intentions, and 
under the same external circumstances, and yet these acts, 
in appearance so similar, may, in their intrinsic value, be 
as different as two coins of the same size and the same im 
pression, one of which is of gold, the other of silver. 

Ear greater, then, must now be your admiration for 
grace, Christian soul, when you see that it not only commu 
nicates to your works a simple merit, but may infinitely 
increase this merit. Who, then, would not esteem and love 

278 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace, when it so easily grants us that which otherwise we 
cannot obtain by the greatest labor and exertion ? Who 
ought not to burn with a holy desire to acquire and preserve 
this grace ? Who, finally, would be satisfied with an infe 
rior degree of grace, and not rather hasten to increase it as 
soon and as much as possible by co-operating faithfully 
and zealously with the grace he already possesses ? 

This is the more necessary, as God gives us grace pre 
cisely for that end, that we may merit as much as possible 
with Him, since He Himself admonishes, encourages, and 
urges us thereto, and since nothing is more agreeable to Him 
than when we make Him ever more our debtor. "Arise, 
my love, my beautiful one, and come;" 1 so God addresses, in 
the Canticle of Canticles, the soul that is in the state of grace. 
Yes, we should hasten, and not only run, but fly as the dove, 
to receive the crown prepared for us. " He that is just, let 
Mm be justified still," says our Lord in the Apocalypse : 2 
" and lie that is holy, let him le sanctified still." " Blessed 
is the man," sings the Psalmist, 3 "whose help is from Tliee : 
in his heart hehath disposed to ascend ly stc2)s." St. Paul 
constantly admonishes us to grow and increase in charity. In 
like manner Holy Writ exhorts us in a thousand other places 
to be prudent and zealous merchants, and not to neglect the 
precious opportunities for such an advantageous bargain. 
Yea, God makes it our strict duty to put at interest and 
multiply the talent of grace He has given us, and He 
threatens us with the severest punishments if we let it lie 
idle and unimproved. 

4. How foolish, then, are we, if we neglect so many oppor 
tunities that offer themselves every day and hour ! Though 
we did not commit sin by neglect of prayer, an easy, un- 
mortified life by performing but few good works, never 
theless, we suffer an irreparable loss. 

If we made an act of love of God thrice a day, we should 
acquire a hundred degrees more of grace in one month ; a 
thousand in one year : and in a few years we should be en- 

1 Cant, of Cant. il. 13. 2 Apoc- xxii. 11. 3 Ps. Ixxxiii. 6. 

The Infinite Value of Grace. 279 

riched with infinite degrees of grace, for which in Heaven 
we might expect equal degrees of glory. If yon omit those 
three acts of love, how can you imagine it a trifling loss ? 

But how much do they gain, who, with the Apostle, mor 
tify themselves the whole day, who constantly sing the 
praises of God, bear His love in their heart, and in their 
acts accomplish His will ! With how great and wonderful 
glory will they be introduced into the possession of the 
kingdom of their Father ! Who, then, would be contented 
with a few prayers only, a few mortifications and good 
works, when his every day, aye, every hour and minute, 
may be replete with good works ? 

The loss, however, which you suffer on account of your 
negligence, appears double and threefold when you con 
sider that your present negligence in acquiring merit de 
prives also your future works of a part of their value, and 
even leads you into danger of losing again that which you 
have already acquired. 

For since the merit of our works depends principally 
upon the degree of grace that we occupy, our future works 
will evidently be less meritorious the more inferior the 
degree of grace is that we have before acquired. Since, 
then, we can acquire by every good work a higher degree of 
grace which the omission of the act withholds from us, it 
follows that our negligence and sloth in the practice of 
virtue must deprive all our future works of a part of their 
value, and must cause an incalculable and irreparable loss. 

Moreover, the negligent merchant endangers that which 
he already possesses ; for the kingdom of Heaven suffers 
violence, and with violence must we bear it away. We are 
placed with our treasures, as it were, upon a rapid stream ; 
if we do not tend upwards against the stream, and struggle 
against the waves, we cannot remain in the same place, but 
will be carried away by the torrent, together with our treas 
ures. We have to deal with God, who prizes very highly the 
gifts of grace and glory which He offers us, and cannot per 
mit us to despise and contemn them. Yet we are guilty of 

280 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

such contempt when we seek them only negligently,, and 
thereby diminish our desire to receive them, as well as the 
readiness of God to concede them. Oh, that we all took 
to heart the consoling, but equally terrible words of our 
Lord : " To every one that liatli shall he given, and he 
shall abound ; and from him that hath not, even that which 
he hath shall be taken from him." 

5. It is, again, not necessary for the acquisition of heaven 
ly merit, that we perform works to which we are not bound 
by any law. Even if we only fulfil the law and do that 
which we cannot omit without sin, we already acquire merit 
with God, and our merit is the greater the more zealous and 
solicitous is the performance of our duty. Thus, by sup 
pressing an inordinate motion, by combating a temptation, 
we may enrich ourselves, and acquire the greatest merit, 
where the devil intended us the greatest damage. 

Admire here again, Christian reader, the power of grace 
and the liberality of your God. But at the same time 
wonder at your own incomprehensible folly, when by suc 
cumbing to a temptation, you at once lose the great good 
of a heavenly merit, and bring upon yourself the great 
evil of sin with all its consequences. 

But what shall we think of him who by a mortal sin 
loses not only the merits he might have acquired by over 
coming the temptation, but besides loses all he had hitherto 
acquired, and renders himself incapable, as long as he re 
mains in sin, of acquiring any further merit ? 

Oh, how sad it is to hear the sinner say, "Why 
should it be a great thing to commit a mortal sin ? Can I 
not make it good again in the next confession ? " I will say 
nothing even of the hideousness of sin itself, which offends 
the highest good, and dishonors your soul, say nothing of all 
that which must make even a momentary loss of grace ap 
pear more bitter to a truly enlightened man than the suffer - 
ing and pain of many years 7 duration, I will say nothing of 
your uncertainty, whether you may again be converted and 

1 Luke xix, 26. 

The Infinite Value of Grace. 281 

thus escape eternal damnation. But is it really a trifle if you 
lose at once, in a single moment, all those precious treasures 
of merits, which you have perhaps gathered through many 
years with much labor and exertion ? Is it a mere trifle 
that during all the time that you remain in sin, you are 
unable, with all possible labor and pain, to acquire even the 
slightest merit for Heaven ? Without grace all the works 
that you perform are dead with regard to Heaven. Your 
fasts, your prayers, your works of mercy may be useful 
and in part obligatory, so that you could not omit them 
without falling into other sins. But they can profit you 
nothing for eternity. Had you remained, however, in the 
state of grace, they would have brought you a great profit. 

If a rich banker cast a large sum of money, which brought 
him daily a hundred dollars, into the sea, in hopes that 
in a month or so he might draw it up again, would 
you not consider him the greatest fool, especially if he 
pretended to have lost only a trifle ? You would certainly 
consider him so, not only because the loss were great, but 
also irrecoverable. 

But is the loss of merit, which you might have acquired 
in the state of grace, less great and irreparable ? Even 
though the merits acquired before and lost by mortal sin 
revive again at the recovery of grace which depends, ac 
cording to some theologians, upon conditions that you per 
haps cannot so easily fulfil, even though in future you 
compensate for the lost time by redoubled fervor ; that 
time, which you have spent in sin, is certainly lost beyond 
recovery, and your redoubled zeal would bring far greater 
fruit if you had always preserved and made use of 

When, with the grace of God, you have once entered 
Heaven, and could even there experience sorrow, you would 
have no more just cause for such sorrow than your neg 
lect of grace upon earth, and your loss of a higher de 
gree of glory consequent upon your temporary loss of 
grace. Well, then, indulge now in this holy grief, and en- 

282 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

deavor, at least in future, not to be guilty of this neglect, 
of this disastrous folly. 

6. We must here emphatically remark, that the neces 
sity of sanctifying grace for heavenly merit must not pre 
vent us from performing all possible good and supernatu 
ral works, even in the state of sin. Though these works 
are not elevated by grace, nor animated by a filial love of 
God, and are, therefore, of no account for eternity, yet 
they restrain us from many new sins ; they dispose our 
heart for revival by charity, and also influence the mercy 
of God to grant us soon the grace of perfect conversion. 
If we omitted them also, we would withdraw ever more 
from grace, and finally almost entirely lose the hope of re 
covering it, and with it the faculty for merit. It is fool 
ish, then, to omit these works ; but it were equally foolish 
to shun the little trouble by which we might communicate 
to them an eternal and imperishable value. 

This also must be especially remarked, that the merit 
of the good work depends principally upon the grace that 
we possess, but that the act itself must likewise be taken 
into consideration. We must not imagine that any and 
all acts that we perform in the state of grace, even those 
we perform with natural motives, are meritorious before 
God, provided only they be not sinful. Only those acts 
which we perform from supernatural motives under the 
impulse of the Holy Ghost and the influence of Jesus 
Christ ; only those which are rooted in grace and correspond 
to its high dignity, are borne aloft by grace to the throne 
of God, and are pleasing and meritorious in His eyes. 
Their merit increases according to the strength of grace we 
apply to them, and the purity and nobleness of the motive 
that directs and determines them, according to their being 
performed in the full strength and the spirit of grace. As 
a man, therefore, who stands higher in grace may, with 
the same effort and in the same work, gain more merit 
than one who is inferior in grace ; so may the latter gain 
a greater merit than the former, if he acts with his entire 

The Infinite Value of Grace. 283 

strength and the noblest motives, whilst the other only 
employs a part of his strength and from less noble motives. 
If, then, we would gain great, very great merits before God, 
we must seek by all possible means to acquire grace, and 
the highest possible degree of grace, and likewise endeavor 
to perform our works entirely in the spirit of grace, and 
with its full strength, with the greatest effort and the high 
est motives. The manner in which we must do this will be 
shown in the fifth book, which treats of the practice and 
exercise of supernatural virtues. 


The Inestimable Privilege of Grace, that by the 
Works performed in it, we may render Satisfac 
tion for the Punishments of Sin Deserved. 


| HE merit of a higher eternal glory in Heaven is 
not the only fruit of the supernatural works 
that we perform in the state of grace. They have 
this other incalculable advantage, that they remove the ob 
stacle which may after death delay our entrance into 
Heaven for a long time,, that they liberate us from the ter 
rible sufferings of purgatory. 

This would follow already from the fact that grace en 
tirely destroys and annihilates in us the guilt of mortal sin. 
If it is able to destroy the guilt, which is an infinitely 
greater evil than its punishment, and which is the 
cause of such punishment, then it cannot be lacking in 
the power of paying and remitting the punishment also. 
Although, therefore, in justification, it generally leaves a 
part of temporal punishment to be paid for the guilt, it 
places us in a condition to make worthy satisfaction for 
the penalty. 

As it makes the good works of the children and friends 
of God very pleasing to Him and worthy of a heavenly re 
ward, so it makes all the sufferings of the children and 
friends infinitely valuable and offers it up to God as a 
worthy satisfaction. We need only joyfully accept the diffi 
culty and labor connected with the performance of good 
works, or bear the inevitable sufferings patiently and re 
signedly, and God will, in consideration of the high dig 
nity grace has given us, and the supernatural charity for 

file Great Privilege of Grace. 285 

which it qualifies us, appreciate these little sufferings 
more than if, without grace, we had endured for many 
years the greatest and direst torments. As the satisfac 
tion of Christ receives its infinite value not so much from 
the greatness of His sufferings, as from the infinite dig 
nity of His person, so the sufferings of His living mem 
bers receive from grace an ineffably high value, which of 
themselves they could not possess. 

We could fully appreciate this further blessing of grace, 
then, only if we had a clear notion of the terrible suffer 
ings of purgatory. St. Gregory the Great teaches that 
they are more fearful than the most exquisite suffer 
ings of the holy martyrs ; according to St. Thomas, they 
are more painful than the sufferings of Christ ; according 
to St. Anselm, they are greater than all the sufferings 
which a man can endure in this life. Yea, according to 
the common opinion of theologians, the fire in purgatory 
is of the same kind as that of hell, and the principal 
distinction between the sufferings in purgatory and those 
in hell is this only, that the former are not eternal, and 
do not destroy, therefore, the hope of liberation. 

2. What a boon, then, do we enjoy in grace, when by it 
we may redeem so many and such great torments by every 
insignificant and trifling suffering ! If the king of a vast 
empire decreed, by an especial privilege, that the pence of 
a subject, who, with his family, was burdened with a heavy 
debt, should be accepted and valued at a thousand gold- 
pieces, how speedily and diligently would he take up all 
his pence to rid himself from all debt ! Would he not 
hasten to assist also his friends and relatives, and to leave 
his children a great treasure ! In the same manner you 
may, whilst you are in the state of grace, redeem, by an in 
significant suffering and slight effort, other sufferings a 
hundred and thousand times longer and more dreadful. 
That which would otherwise scarce be of any profit to you 
is now estimated as of infinite value by God on account of 
grace. The hundred -fold fruit, which Christ has promised 

286 77ic Glories of Divine Grace. 

our works in the life to come, lias reference, according to 
different theologians,, not only to the heavenly reward, 
but also to the expiation of merited punishment. Grace is, 
so to speak, the patent upon the presentation of which 
God accepts our pence at a thousand times their value. 
HOAV, then, can you hesitate to gather as many pence as 
possible by mortifications and sufferings for the love of 
God, to cast these pence into the treasury of God and thus 
redeem your own debt and even that of your relatives and 
friends ? For grace so enriches you,, that with compara 
tively little labor you may render satisfaction, not only for 
your own sins, but also for the sins of others. If you 
would, therefore, do a great service to your relatives and 
friends, then thank God that you can, by this means, as 
sist them in their greatest necessity, and do not fail to do 
so with all zeal and Christian prudence, as soon and as 
much as possible. 

How poor and miserable are we, on the other hand, if we 
have lost grace ! Whilst in grace the endurance of all, even 
of involuntary pain and suffering, brought us the greatest 
profit, without grace all voluntary suffering can profit us 
nothing for the remission of the punishment of sin. We 
may suffer grave diseases, hunger, poverty, insult, offences, 
and the loss of earthly goods, the most cruel pains in soul 
and body, anything that a man can suffer in this life ; all 
is for nothing. If we suffered all this taken together 
until doomsday, we should not have redeemed the punish 
ment for the slightest offence of God, since Divine justice 
can accept no satisfaction from its enemy whilst he remains 
an enemy This is so true 1 that the justice of God is forced 
to punish those who are eternally damned on account 
of mortal sin, to punish them likewise for small and venial 
sins for all eternity. Whether, then, you would be eternally 
damned or temporarily suffer in purgatory, you see how 
much it is to your interest to preserve grace, in order to be 
saved from such terrible punishments. 

1 Suarez, do recc. disp. vli.. sect. -1. 


By Grace we enter into a Wonderful Communion 
of Goods with Christ and the Saints. 

1. - 

| HE wonderful power of grace is not exhausted by 
enabling us personally to gain merits for Heaven 
and to render satisfaction for our sins to the Divine 
justice; it makes us, besides, participate in the merits and 
satisfactions of all saints and of Christ Himself, as the 
enraptured Psalmist sings : J I am a partaker with all 
them that fear Thee and that keep TJiy commandments. 

By grace we enter into the most intimate and loving 
union with Christ and all the saints, being joined with 
them into a mystical body, whose soul is the Holy Spirit. 
But if there exists the most perfect communion of goods in 
this union, as has been explained already, then the treas 
ure of merits and satisfactions which Christ and the saints 
have solicited by their holy works and sufferings must prof 
it all those who are connected with them by grace. 

As regards first the merits of Christ,, it is certain that 
Christ has died for the sinners, and will apply His merits to 
the sinners. The sinner, too, receives manifold graces ; 
but all these graces remain fruitless, if they do not lead to 
sanctifying grace, and reconcile him again with God. 
Thus the sinner, then, only obtains in reality the fruit of the 
merits of Christ and access to eternal life, which Christ has 
acquired for us, when sanctifying grace converts him from 
an enemy into a child of God. Therefore we must say 
that no one derives any benefit for eternal life from the 
merits of Christ, excepting by sanctifying grace. 

1 Ps. cxviil. 63. 

288 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Grace, again, makes us living members of Christ. Now 
it is evident that a living member may draw much good 
and advantage from the resources of the head, which a dead 
member or one only half alive cannot receive. Thus the 
justified, in virtue of their living union with Christ, receive 
a great wealth of actual graces to practise virtue and avoid 
sin, from which the sinners are excluded. They alone 
have access to the sacraments of the living, which apply 
the merit of Christ to us and which increase grace in us 
far more than we could increase it by our own merit. For 
the sacraments and especially the Holy Sacrament of the 
altar are the channel by which streams of grace flow to us 
from the infinite treasure of the meritt of Christ without 
any action on our part. We need only to approach with 
devotion and to draw therefrom, in order to increase and 
perfect ever more the wealth of Divine grace in our soul. 

The merit of the saints, then, is in itself a personal merit 
and can work an increase of sanctifying grace directly for 
themselves only and not for others. Nevertheless, our fel 
lowship with them in grace is so intimate, that their merit 
also profits us and effects in us, at least indirectly, an in 
crease of sanctifying grace. 

Besides this their merit lends a far greater efficacy to 
their prayers. And thus the saints, by their merits and 
their more efficacious prayers, can obtain many and great 
actual graces for us, by which we are preserved from the 
loss of sanctifying grace, and urged to acquire ever greater 
merits ourselves. In a thousand cases, where our prayers 
would be insufficient with God, the saints come to our as 
sistance with their prayers, and enable us to make such pro 
gress as of ourselves we could never accomplish. 

2. All these treasures and riches are lost for you, my dear 
Christian, if you are not in the state of grace. Though 
others be favored with a golden stream of grace from Heav 
en ; though others be filled and blessed by the abundant 
sufferings of the martyrs, by the charitable works of the 
patriarchs, by the ardent desire of the prophets, by the 

Communion with Christ. 289 

zealous labors of the apostles, by the austere life of confes 
sors and virgins, and by the whole infinite treasure of the 
merits of the ever Blessed Virgin and the King of saints, 
Christ Jesus Himself, you alone are left empty-handed. 
Oh, what unspeakable misfortune ! Whilst others swim in a 
stream of Divine graces, are drunk with heavenly drink, 
and in the Most Blessed Sacrament feed upon the bread of 
eternal life, you must perish miserably from hunger and 
thirst ! Aye, you are forbidden, under grave and just pen 
alty, to approach the table of life and the treasure of the 
Sacraments of the living, whilst the others have constant 
free access. Or if you should nevertheless approach sac 
rilegiously, you would only receive a deadly poison and 
live coals, that would forever burn you, whilst others de 
rive therefrom imperishable riches. By the judgment of 
God and the judgment of your own conscience, you are 
spiritually excommunicated, i. e., cutoff from the living 
union with Christ and His members, though exteriorly you 
still belong to the body of Christ. But if the public judicial 
excommunication of the Church is so terrible and is justly 
dreaded by the faithful, how much more terrible, then, is 
sin, which deprives you of the fellowship of the saints, 
eliminates your name from the number of the children of 
God, and associates you with the slaves of the devil ! 

Nevertheless, as long as you preserve the faith and re 
main in the bosom of the Church, you still enjoy to some 
extent participation in the merits of Christ and His saints ; 
you still receive through them, though far less abun 
dantly than in the state of grace, many graces, which ought 
to lead you to return to sanctifying grace. But the fruits 
of the satisfaction of Christ and His saints is to the last 
and smallest part entirely lost to you. As little as you 
yourself can render satisfaction for your sins and can re 
deem its punishment when you are in a state of sin, so lit 
tle can you partake in this state of the satisfaction of 
others. Thus you are incapable likewise of deriving any 
benefit from the indulgences which the Church so lavishly 

290 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

dispenses from the treasury of her head and holy members. 

In the state of grace, however, you may appropriate the 
superfluous satisfaction of others at pleasure. Every 
friend, every saint can transfer his satisfaction to you, and 
they are your own as well as his. The Church herself may 
with a full hand pour out upon you the inexhaustible treas 
ure deposited with her, and may enrich you so much that 
you are as free from punishment as from guilt, and can en 
ter Heaven without touching the fire of purgatory. So 
great is the dignity which grace confers upon you, so in 
timate the union in which it associates you with Christ 
and the saints ! 

How easy, then, does grace render the paying of the terri 
ble penalties of sin, since it even does away with the necessity 
of taking upon ourselves those little labors and troubles by 
which we may redeem in this life the punishments of 
purgatory ! Yet, we, who otherwise are bent upon ac 
quiring the greatest amount of good in the easiest and most 
commodious way possible, are in this case so foolish and 
senseless, that we often, for a considerable time, remain 
without sanctifying grace, this easy means of giving satis 
faction for our sins ! When will we finally know our own 
advantage and acknowledge the wonderful goodness of God 
towards us, who has given us in grace a source of all good 
and a remedy against all evil ? Oh, that it may not be 
necessary in the hour of death, or in purgatory (supposing, 
that we have not the terrible misfortune to lose grace for 
ever), to repent too late, that we have not extinguished or 
moderated the fire of purgatory and hastened the time of 
the beatific vision by careful preservation and exercise of 
grace ! 

3. When in the state of grace AVC are united with Christ 
and His saints into a living body, we are finally enabled to 
perform all our good works in union with the works of 
Christ and the saints. Since their works are incompar 
ably more perfect than ours, they can supply the defects 
of our works and thus make them more pleasing to God. 

Communion with Christ. 291 

There is nothing more acceptable to God than if all His 
children are united with each other and with His Divine 
Son in serving and praising Him. Christ Himself says : 
" Where there are two or three gathered together in My name, 
I am in the midst of them." l How grateful to Him must 
our service and praise then be,, when we are united not 
only with the one or the other, but with all saints, not, it 
is true, in one place, but are united in one spirit as mem 
bers of the same body ! And how agreeable and consoling 
must be for us the assurance that we serve God and prac 
tise virtue, not alone and separated, but conjointly with so 
many holy souls, who are inflamed with the most ardent 
love for God, who offer themselves as pure and holy sacri 
fices, and chant with us the same hymn of praise ! 

Equally worthless, however, are our works, equally deso 
late our condition, if we are without the state of grace, 
separated from Christ and all the just. How must we 
fear to approach God, when we can no longer join that 
society of holy souls which formerly surrounded us ! How 
weak must our prayers now appear before God, how miser 
able our works ! How little will our actions now please 
Him, when we are no longer associated with the angels, 
but with hell ! 

Certainly the sinner also must pray to God and perform 
good works ; God also appreciates them, but only in so far 
as they are accompanied with the sincere desire of conver 
sion, or at least, are in some manner directed to such conver 
sion. But if the sinner, without the desire of conversion, 
without the intention of severing his connection with hell 
and returning again into the communion of saints, aye, if 
he perhaps have the intention even of again offending God, 
and in this disposition dare to make his offering to God, then 
those terrible words apply to him which God once spoke 
to wicked Israel : " To what purpose do you offer me the 
multitude of your victims, saith the Lord? 1 am full ; 1 
desire not holocausts of rams, and fat of failings, and blood 

1 Matth. xviii. 20. 

292 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

of calves, and lambs, and buck-goats. Wtien you came to ap 
pear before me, ivho required these things at your hands, that 
you should zualk in my courts? Offer sacrifice no more in 
vain: incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, 
and the sabbath, and other festivals I will not abide : your 
assemblies are wicked. My soul hateth your new moons, and 
your solemnities : they are become troublesome to me, I am 
weary of bearing them. And when you stretch forth your 
hands, I will turn away my eyes from you." 

Hasten, then, sinner, hasten to return to God and the 
communion of saints. God and His saints will gladly 
assist you in the recovery of grace ; but you do not know 
how long God will yet bear with you, and permit His 
saints to assist you, if you do not in this moment already 
begin your conversion. 

1 is. i. 11-15. 


The Wonderful Power which Grace manifests in 
the Weakness of our Nature. 


|EFORE we conclude this book on the effects of 
grace in the soul, we must call particular atten 
tion to the wonderful power which grace pos 
sesses, compared with the weakness and infirmity of our 

The supernatural, precious value which grace confers 
upon our actions is certainly in itself a most sublime ef 
fect of grace. But as long as we live upon earth, it is vis 
ible to God and the saints of Heaven only. We perceive it 
only by faith and therefore we do not accord it a very 
great admiration. 

But when sanctifying grace, in union with its accom 
panying actual graces, breaks the chains of our passions and 
bad habits, when it conquers the weakness and misery of 
our nature, or rather confers upon our nature the power to 
deny and conquer itself, then we behold and experience 
the effects of grace as plainly as we feel and experience 
the severe yoke of the passions and the misery of our 
nature, and we have occasion to realize and admire 
its evident wonderful power in us. 

" Come and behold ye the works of the Lord: what won 
ders He hath done upon earth," sings the royal Psalmist. 1 
The old spiritual writer, Cassian, applies these words to the 
effects of grace: Come and see, he says, how a hardened 
usurer is converted to liberality, a spendthrift and de 
bauchee to continency, a proud man to humility, an indulged 

1 Ps. xlv. 9. 

294 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

and delicate person to severe and zealous penance, to volun 
tary poverty and mortifications. These are truly works of 
God, these are miracles, which in a moment convert, as in the 
case of Matthew, publicans into apostles, and as with ^t. 
Paul, raving persecutors into most zealous preachers of the 
Gospel. These are the works of God, of which the Son 
of God says that He performs them every day, together 
with His Father. Who would not admire the power of 
grace, when he beholds the attraction to gluttony and the 
love for sensual pleasure so mortified in himself, that he is 
contented with vile and insipid food, and takes even this 
sparingly and unwillingly ; when he perceives the fire of con 
cupiscence and of carnal lust, which he considered inextin 
guishable, so cooled within him, that he scarcely notices the 
slightest motion of it ; when he beholds angry and mad 
men, who were incited to auger even by marks of great 
tenderness, made so meek and mild, that they are 
no longer moved even by gross insults, but on the contrary, 
enjoy them ? 

Thus teaches Cassian, and St. Bernard adds : that the 
omnipotence of the Eternal Word is made evident in noth 
ing more than in this, that it makes those who trust in 
Him omnipotent by the strength of grace. Of this 
strength the Apostle remarks, that he can do all things 
with it. Grace is that power of the Holy Ghost which 
our Saviour has promised to the Apostles, and in them to us, 
by the words : <f You will be endued with power from on 
high." 1 Hence St. Chrysostom calls grace an impregnable 
wall and he teaches that it smooths all difficulties for 
us and makes every burden bearable. The same sentiment 
is expressed by the royal Psalmist, when with strong confi 
dence in God he says of himself : " WJw hath made my 
feet like the feet of harts, and who setteth me upon high places. 
\\Hio teacheth my hands to war: and hast made my arms like 
a brazen bow." a 

The recollection of these words dispelled in the heart of 
1 Luke xxiv. 49. " Ps. xvii. 34. 

Grace Overcomes Weak Nature. 295 

blessed Andrew Spinola the fear of the sufferings and 
mortifications of monastic life, which depressed him and 
detained him from the entrance into the Society of Jesus, 
as he had been accustomed to the pleasures and comforts 
of the court. He was so impressed by the words, that he 
experienced a great sweetness in all those things he had 
before dreaded, and finally, as a missionary in Japan, joyful 
ly suffered a slow and terrible martyrdom by fire. 

Indeed, there is no doubt that, in the words of the Prophet 
Isaias, all " they that hope in the Lord shall renew their 
strength; they shall take wings as eagles." 1 They shall fly 
without trouble and weariness in the way of perfection, 
since the grace of God wonderfully supports and bears the 
clumsiness of our body and the weakness of our soul, and 
seasons with heavenly balsam the bitterness of every labor. 

2. Great and sublime, but very true, is that saying of St. 
Augustine, that the soul, provided only it do not voluntar 
ily surrender to sin and cast away its weapons, has more 
power, from the assistance of Divine grace, to subdue the 
flesh, than the flesh has in kindling the fire of concupis 
cence, for we all know that it is written : " The lust (of sin) 
shall be under thee, andthou shalt have dominion over it." 
St. Augustine spoke not without experience ; he only re 
peated for the instruction of others a truth which he had 
proven in himself. He had long and laboriously battled 
with the vanities of this world, with his evi-l habits and 
passions ; but they had held him so long and strongly en 
slaved and would not leave him escape at once and for al 
ways, and he could not break their chains. But when 
grace had suddenly burst these chains asunder with mighty 
power, he exclaimed : " How sweet on a sudden was it 
become to me to be without the sweets of those toys ! 
And what I was before so much afraid to lose, I now cast 
from me with joy. For Thou, my God, didst expel them 
from me and didst come Thyself instead of them, sweeter 
than any pleasure whatever." 

1 Is. xl. 31. 2 Gen. iy. 7. 3 Confess. Bk. IX. Ch. 1. 

296 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

St. Cyprian had made a similar experience in himself ; 
he speaks of it as follows : As I was held enslaved by the 
innumerable errors of my former life and did not believe 
that I could free myself from them, so was I attached to 
the vices that adhered to me, and, despairing of a better 
life, I loved my evils as if they were already my bondsmen 
and my property. But after the power of the waters of 
regeneration had washed away the stains of my former life, 
and had infused a light from above into my cleansed and 
purified heart, after I had been imbued with the Spirit 
from Heaven, and had by a second birth been transformed 
into a new man, then I felt, suddenly and wonderfully, all 
doubts dispelled, all hidden things clear, all obscure things 
plain, and what before seemed difficult to me appeared 
now very easy. * 

St. Gregory the Great applies to the grace of the Christian 
the promise made to Saul : " The Spirit of the Lord shall 
come upon thee : . . . and tlwu shalt be changed into another 
man." 2 As the Spirit of God converted Saul from a poor 
shepherd boy into a mighty and terrible king, before whom 
the enemies of Israel were to tremble, so the same Spirit, 
by His grace, makes you a strong master over concupiscence, 
a victorious king over the flesh; He converts you into an 
other man, who finds that sweet and pleasant, which before 
he avoided and detested. "This is the change of the right 
hand of the Most High. 3 which the Psalmist so admired ; 
this is a supernatural wonder, which only grace can work 
in you and of which Holy Writ says: 4 (( God is wonderful 
in His saints." 

This effect might indeed appear less wonderful and sub 
lime, since it is appropriate to the spiritual nature of our 
soul to govern the flesh, to subdue its lusts, and to love the 
beauty of virtue and justice more than sensual goods and 
pleasures. Though this be true, and though, according to 
the words of the Apostle, the spirit is contrary to the flesh 
and tends to govern it, yet it feels but too well that it is 

1 Ep. ad Donat. 2 I. Kin^s x. G. 3 Ps. Rtxvi. 11. 4 Ibid. Ixvii. 36. 

Grace Overcomes Weak Nature. 297 

against its will a slave to the flesh, that it cannot liberate it 
self from the dominion of the latter, and therefore groans 
under the heavy yoke imposed upon it. Hence the Apostle 
cries onti lf< Who shall deliver me from the body of this 
death? The grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord." It 
is grace, then, which liberates the soul in a wonderful man 
ner from this sad servitude in which it is placed by nature ; 
it is grace, again, which establishes the spirit in its becom 
ing rank and superiority. 

3. It is, however, still more wonderful that grace not only 
orders the flesh back into the position of natural and nec 
essary subjection to the spirit, but it gives the spirit, more 
over, such a power, that it may even hate the flesh and de 
sire to annihilate it, that it may deny to the body the gratifi 
cation even of its lawful desires and grant it naught but 
what is bitter and unpleasant, that it may be prepared to suf 
fer the flesh to be consumed and destroyed as a holocaust in 
honor of God. For is it not wonderful that delicate vir 
gins and children, as St. Agnes, St. Eulalia, St. Pancra- 
tius, and innumerable others, should joyfully triumph over 
the rage of the tyrants and of hell, who, with most exqui 
site cruelty, applied all their wit to invent torture and suf 
fering for them, aye, should even in holy joy mock at these 
pains and torments ? "What shall we say of the holy her 
mits,, the fathers of the desert and so many other saints, who 
voluntarily lived for many years in greatest retirement and 
poverty, denied themselves all gratifications of the flesh, 
labored by fasts and chastisements not only to keep within 
bounds, but to kill the concupiscence of the flesh, and who 
lived in the flesh, as angels in Heaven without flesh ? 
Whence did Barsanuphius, to mention one out of a thous 
and, receive that superhuman strength to live for fifty 
years in a small cave, hidden from the view of all mortals, 
without food, and without all human resources ? From the 
inexhaustible source of grace alone. 

Grace is mightier than nature ; it arms nature against it- 

1 Rom. vii. 24, 25. 

298 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

self, so that it is able to renounce itself, to deny and give 
up its own self, and to do a holy violence to itself. Grace 
makes us capable of that superhuman mortification and 
perfection which the Saviour demands of us, when He in 
structs us to renounce all, even that which nature holds 
dearest, and to hate and sacrifice our own soul. For that 
is the greatest wonder of grace, that it induces our spirit 
not only to mortify and renounce the flesh, but to deny 
and mortify itself, by renouncing its own will and its own 
judgment, and to offer itself in unlimited obedience to God 
as a precious and perfect holocaust. 

The violence of grace to nature at first glance appears 
unnatural, not as a blessing, but as an evil for nature, 
wherefore nature, too, is so much opposed to it. But 
grace will mortify nature only to raise it to a new life, and 
by taking away all that nature possesses, loves, and desires, 
even its own self, and thus dividing and wounding it in its 
innermost depth, it at the same time infuses such a grate 
ful balsam into this wound, that nature finds nothing 
sweeter than to be stripped and wounded in this manner. 
Inquire of the saints whether they ever experienced any 
greater delight than in those moments when they denied 
themselves and offered themselves, soul and body, up to 
God. St. Francis Xavier will answer, in the name of all, 
that he knows nothing sweeter than to conquer and mor 
tify oneself. Let us ask ourselves whether we have ever 
experienced a deeper and livelier joy, than when we sup 
pressed a violent desire of nature, or performed any other 
act of heroic mortification with the help of grace. 

If grace, then, could give the saints such a wonderful, 
superhuman, and heroic courage, as to elevate them above 
themselves and make them lead an angelic life already 
in the flesh, can it not enable you to live at least like a 
man, in harmony with your natural dignity, and not as an 
animal, as a slave to the flesh ? Believe me, everything is 
possible to grace, everything ; and when you have expe 
rienced its power, you will exclaim with the Apostle : ".1 

Grace Overcomes Weak Nature. 299 

can do all tilings in Him who strengthened me." 1 I can 
curb the insolent flesh, bridle the passions, restrain 
the desires, eradicate the evil habits, and prune the sin 
ful inclinations and affections, even if the operation 
should draw blood ; I can humble myself and subject my 
self to all for God s sake ; I can finally die with Christ, 
and for Christ, and die a protracted death, and do all 
this perse veringly and joyfully ! 

heavenly power, blessing, wonder of grace, which 
converts this frail reed, this light down, this soap-bubble 
of our nature into a brazen column, an impregnable wall, 
and makes- it strong and invincible, not only against its 
external enemies, but e ven against itself ! 

4. Indeed, grace loves to manifest its strength most 
gloriously, not in making the strong stronger, but in unit 
ing itself with the greatest weakness. Thus says the 
Apostle : " Tlie power (of grace) is made perfect in infir 
mity." And he adds: " Gladly, therefore, will I glory in 
my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 
For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in re 
proaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for 
Christ ; for when I am weak, then am I poiverful." * 

Precisely when we are weak and because we are weak, 
the wonderful power of grace is made manifest in us. God 
might have given us a perfect and strong nature, which 
grace needed only to elevate and to glorify. lie might al 
so, by the grace that makes us His children, take away all 
our natural weakness and infirmities. But this would be 
less glorious for His grace and for ourselves, and would 
not make the wonderful power it gives us so manifest as 
now, when we by grace may triumph over weakness and 

Let us, then, give heartfelt thanks to God for the wonders 
which His grace works in us. Let us, in evidence of this 
gratitude,, always remain hopeful, and in the midst of our 
poverty and misery faithfully hold fast to the word of God 

1 Phil, iv- 13. 2 II Cor. xii. 9, 10. 

300 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

which He spoke to His Apostle : 1 " My grace is sufficient 
for tliee : for power is made perfect in infirm ity." Let us 
not complain that the devil and the flesh afflict us with such 
severe temptations, that it would seem we must succumb. 
And though it is not forbidden to desire and ask God to 
avert them from us, let us suffer them with patience and 
even joy, if He will not deliver us from them ; for 
then we are certain that He will gloriously manifest His 
grace in us and give us the opportunity for a splendid su 
perhuman victory. Therefore, we must not consider it a 
severe yoke, but an honor and great happiness, that grace 
places us in a condition to deny and mortify our nature. 

1 II. Cor. xii. 9. 

On some other Effects and Preroga 
tives of Divine Grace. 


Grace makes us Worthy, in Every Respect, of a 
Special Divine Providence. 

HE supernatural effects which grace produces in 
our soul are no less glorious and sublime than 
the sublime union with God into which it intro 
duces us. Grace is a Divine light, which diffuses in our 
soul in a higher manner and more perfect measure all those 
gifts and blessings which the sun diffuses over the earth. 
At one blow it annihilates the most fearful and invincible 
of all evils, mortal sin. It impregnates our soul with the 
germs of heavenly and Divine virtues, by which we par 
ticipate in the life of God Himself and merit His heav 
enly happiness. It brings us the seven precious gifts of 
the Holy Ghost, and a whole series of other graces, which 
we require on the way to Heaven. It makes us partakers 
of the merits and satisfactions of Christ and of all the 
saints. It finally triumphs in a wonderful manner over 
our weakness and infirmity. 

These are so many and so great gifts, that it might seem 
as if with them the treasures of grace were exhausted. 
Still there are some others, which deserve a particular 

302 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

attention, and which, therefore, will form the subject of 
the present book. Afterward we shall demonstrate how 
much the example of the good angels and of all the saints 
ought to animate us to love and appreciate the glories of 

2. Since grace makes us dearly beloved children of God, 
whom He embraces in ineffable tenderness in His only-be 
gotten Son, we are certain that God will in every way pro 
vide for us with truly paternal solicitude. We may confi 
dently commend to Him all our desires and cares, and ex 
pect, with full certainty, that He will give us not only His 
heavenly kingdom, but all other things besides, if they are 
useful and salutary for us. 

" Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice ; and 
all these tilings shall he added unto you," says our Saviour. 1 
This kingdom of God is grace, by .which God reigns in us, 
and by which we are called to reign with Him ; the justice 
of the kingdom of God is none other than the justice of 
grace, which is given us as children of God. How easy 
and precious and desirable in themselves even are the 
conditions of the contract between God and ourselves ! If 
we seek Heaven only, earth will likewise be ours ; aye, ev 
erything is ours, if we belong to Christ and God. "All 
things are yours," writes St. Paul to the Corinthians, 2 
"whether it he Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas, or the world, or life, 
or death, or tilings present, or things to come: for all are 
yours, and you are Christ s, and Christ is God s." The 
saints are ours to assist us, life is ours to make us happy in 
God, death to bring us to Him, the present to serve our 
necessities, the future, which we may already claim, the 
world, because it is subject to us and was created for us. 

blessed and happy condition ! If you belong to God, 
you are lord over all things. " For," says St. Bona venture, 
"the Lord, the Friend, the Father will not permit His 
servant, His friend, His child to suffer want in anything." 

God not only compares this His paternal solicitude with 

* Matth. vi. c3. 2 I. Cor. ii ; . 22, 23. 

Grace and Divine Providence. 303 

the care of a mother for her infant, but He extols it 
infinitely more, saying: " If a woman should forget her 
infant, yet will not I forget thee." 1 " Hearken unto me, 
house of Jacob" He exclaims, " and all the remnant of the 
house of Israel, who are carried in my bowels; even to 
your old age and to your gray hairs I ivill carry you. T 
have made you and I will bear. I will carry and will 
save." "He that touches yoit " says God to us through 
the prophet Zacharias, 3 " toucheth the apple of my eye." 
"He hath hid me in His tabernacle; in the day of evils 
He hath protected me in the secret place of His tabernacle."* 

But if God so loves us, so diligently provides for us, 
so guards and protects us, because we have been made His 
children by grace, what could be wanting to us in soul or 
body, that is truly useful to us, and can make us truly 
happy ? If God feeds the beasts, and sustains the flowers 
of the field, how muck greater care will He show us men, 
and particularly His children ? 

Let us hear our Lord Himself : " Be not solicitous for 
your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you 
shall put on. Tlie life is more than the meat, and the body 
is more than the raiment. Consider the ravens, for they soio 
not, neither do they reap, neither have they store-house, 
nor barn, and God feedeth them. How much are you more 
valuable than they ? . . . Consider the lilies liow they grow ; 
they labor not, neither do they spin. But .1 say to you } 
not even Solomon in all his glory ivas clothed like one of 
these. Noiv if God clothe in this manner the grass, that is 
to-day in the field and to-morrow is cast into the oven, hoiv 
much more you, ye of little faith ? " 

What then should cause us any anxiety, if we are in the 
state of grace ? Eternity belongs to us as heirs of Heaven, 
and here on earth God provides for all our necessities. 
We may, as St. Peter admonishes, 8 "cast all our care 
upon Him ; for He hath care of us." We need fear no 

1 Is. xlix. 15. 2 Ibid. xlvi. 3, 4. a zach. ii. 8, 4 Ps. xxvi. 5. 
8 Luke. xii. 22-39. 6 I. Pet. v. 7. 

304 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

enemy, since God is with us, nor dread any misfortune, 
since His wings shield us, nor be anxious about food and 
clothing, since our heavenly Father provides better than 
an earthly father or we ourselves could provide. 

3. But you may say, Why, then, do the children of 
God suffer, and sometimes suffer great want, more than the 
children of the world and the sinners ? Why do they also 
frequently pine away in bitter poverty, and so ofter expe 
rience rude shocks of misfortune ? Why are they, too, 
visited by much sickness and tribulation, so that it appears 
God had abandoned them more than others ? 

The answer is very easy. None of these evils can befall 
you without a special permission of God, and as long as 
you remain a true child of God, He who loves you so much 
cannot permit it, unless it redound to your benefit. All 
these evils, therefore, are special gifts of the paternal love 
of God, thereby to make you like unto His only-begotten 
Son, who likewise had to enter into His glory by suffering 
" We Tcnoiv that to them that love God, all things work 
together unto good, to such as according to His purpose 
are called to ~be saints." These sufferings are super- 
naturally hallowed by grace, and they consume our nature 
in honor of the heavenly Father as a holocaust seasoned by 
the heavenly incense of grace. These evils, furthermore, 
are to excite in the children of God a most ardent desire for 
their heavenly home, lest they might become too much 
attached to the place of their exile, and suffer their heart 
to be drawn away from heavenly things by the abundance 
of earthly goods. 

As children of God we are called for eternity, and have 
even now a claim upon eternity ; all temporal things 
must only be a means for arriving at the eternal. The 
more certainly anything leads to this end, the dearer it 
ought to be to us, the more it ought to excite our admir 
ation for the temporal Providence of our heavenly Father, 
be the thing sweet or bitter, agreeable or disagreeable. 

1 Rom. viii. 28. 

Grace and Divine Providence. 305 

Let the heathens run after the perishable things of earth, 
weep over years of scarcity, and anxiously watch the winds 
and the weather ; they have nothing higher to hope for ; 
we have received the temporal things only as auxiliary 
means for brief and transient use, to obtain thereby the 
highest eternal good. 

Oh, that we knew how to appreciate our sublime dignity, 
and the wonderful Providence of God for us ! We should 
consider it beneath our dignity to occupy ourselves so zeal 
ously with temporal cares, and to attach our heart to this 
earthly vanity. Let ns deeply impress on our mind the 
following words of St. Peter Chrysologus : " After the 
Lord has been so liberal towards us and given us His grace 
in such abundance, He commands us to cast away the 
miserable and worthless possessions of our servitude, since 
we are destined to royal greatness. Sell what you possess 
and give alms ! The royal dignity does not suffer a com 
mon ornament ; this supreme honor is bestowed only with 
the purple and diadem. He, then, who believes himself 
anointed king by God, must doff the garment of his servi 
tude. If, then, that highest of Kings beholds one who dares 
come to the marriage feast with a garment unsuited to His 
majesty, He will have him bound and cast into exterior 
darkness, because the disfigurement of the guest dishonors 
the host. And he who still preserves the poor possessions 
of his former state of servitude, after he has been loaded 
with royal treasures and riches, is blinded by his misery 
and knows not how happy he is." l 

Therefore, we should not seek the temporal, we should 
rather be without it, and gladly give it up for the price of 
Heaven. We should seek only the eternal goods of grace ; 
then all other things that are really useful for us, and not 
merely of a glittering appearance, will be added unto us ; 
without grace, however, they can only be dangerous and 
harmful for us. 

" Why, " says the prophet, " do you spend money for that 

1 Pet. Chrysol , horn, xxiii. 

306 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

which is not bread, and your labor for that which doth 
not satisfy you ? " Let us purchase Christ without silver 
and without labor, and He will comfort us ; His grace 
will be a fountain of living water in us, springing up unto 
everlasting life, and creating in our soul a hunger and 
thirst after heavenly goods, which is more agreeable and 
salutary than every earthly food and drink. 

1 Is. Iv. 2. 


Grace Enjoys the Company of Numerous 
Hosts of Angels. 


JOD not only extends His own loving and powerful 
Providence to man in the state of grace, but He 
sends out hosts of heavenly spirits for their pro 
tection, guard, and service. 

The woman represented in the Apocalypse as clothed 
with the sun, who is a figure of the soul adorned by grace, 
has at her side the archangel Michael, and a close array of 
other angels for her protection. Jacob, who was in such 
high favor with God, was astonished to see the angels meet 
him on his return into his country, and he recognized in 
them the camp of God. Eliseus beheld them as they 
stood ready armed to serve him and his disciples as powerful 
auxiliaries. And abbot Isidore led his friend, the abbot 
Moses, who was troubled with grave temptations, to an ele 
vated plain and pointed out to him the arrayed hosts of 
heavenly spirits, saying : " The Lord of hosts sends all 
these to the assistance of His servants, and you see there is 
a greater number on our side than on the side of the 
enemy." Thus was fulfilled what the Psalmist predicted: a 
"The angel of the Lord will spread liis tents around those 
that fear the Lord." 

But what can move God to send from Heaven His own 
court, the hosts of heavenly spirits that surround His 
throne praising and serving Him, to the assistance 
of poor, miserable men ? What can induce the angels 
themselves, who constantly, in ecstatic vision, behold 
1 Ps, xxxiil. 7, according to the Hebrew. 

308 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

God, to offer their services to ns poor earth-worms, and to 
become our faithful companions ? What is our dignity 
that we should merit such society and assistance, and what 
is the important business of the angels with us that re 
quires so much care and solicitude from them ? 

2. Certainly, according to our nature, we should rather 
serve the angels than that they should serve us. But 
grace ranks us so high that even the highest angels do not 
consider it beneath their dignity, but on the contrary, es 
teem themselves happy, in being able to offer us their ser 
vices. They know too well and better than we, that grace 
has raised our souls to the dignity of true children and 
spouses of their King ; that it confers upon us a nobility 
which we do not possess b} r nature. They recognize in us 
the supernatural image of God and therefore hold that 
they must serve and honor God in us. What wonder that 
they should come to us, and that they should be sent to us 
by God, when the Holy Spirit and the whole Blessed 
Trinity by grace descend into our soul, to reside in it as in 
a holy temple ? If the King of angels so lovingly takes 
up His abode in our soul, so gladly remains with it and 
cannot suffer to be separated from it, why should His 
retinue remain behind, and not hasten to surround in 
closed ranks the resting-place of their King and to guard 

Oh, who may comprehend the honor that is accorded our 
soul, when, as a spouse of God, it is surrounded by His own 
court and receives their homage and service ? Human am 
bition knows nothing greater than the glory of a powerful 
king, to whom a whole country does homage, whose bidding 
numerous richly ornamented servants obey, and whose 
retinue is made up of the princes and nobility of the land. 
Who, then, should not envy the glory of the justified soul, 
which is surrounded, not by men, but by angels, not by the 
princes of this earth, but by the princes of Heaven, and 
which is served, not with exterior and compulsory devotion, 
but with the deepest and sincerest respect and love ? 

Grace Enjoys the Company of Angels. 309 

3. But, besides this, the duty and service which the 
angels perform for us is so eminent and Divine, that they 
must feel happy to be admitted thereto. The communica 
tion of grace and its increase is so great a work, that even 
God can perform no greater work in a pure creature. The 
angels, however, are all, as the Apostle teaches, :> Minister 
ing spirits, sent to minister to them who shall receive the 
inheritance of salvation." They are sent to the children 
of God to introduce them into their heavenly inheritance. 
It would be unworthy of the angels to be obliged to assist 
us in the acquisition of earthly goods, as riches, amuse 
ments, human science, or to avert only temporal and bodily 
evils. Grace alone, and the corresponding heavenly inheri 
tance, is precious enough to cause them to descend from 
Heaven to assist us in the acquisition and increase of this 
grace and glory, and to guard us against its loss. Their 
whole attention and labor, then, is devoted to grace, to pre 
serve and increase this precious treasure in our frail ves 

True, in imitating our heavenly Father, they extend 
their care also to the procuring of earthly goods for us and 
protecting us from temporal evils ; but this they likewise 
do only because we are by grace children of God, and only 
in so far as our temporal welfare can be conducive to our 
heavenly destiny. They intend nothing but our true hap 
piness ; but for this they labor with so ardent a zeal as is 
unknown to the world, as can spring only from a heavenly 
love and can be surpassed only by the zeal and love of 

4. What can be more agreeable and welcome to us than 
so devoted an attendance and so powerful a body-guard, 
whom God has sent from His presence to the protection of 
His children, as the Psalmist assures us, and to whom He 
hath given charge ove? us, to keep us in all our ways, and 
who will bear us up in their hands, lest we should dash our 
foot against a stone ? 2 Thus we shall be able, as the same 

1 Heb. i. 14. 2 Ps. xc. II. 

3 1 o The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Psalmist says, to "walk upon the asp and the basilisk 
and trample under foot the lion and the dragon." And why 
should we still fear and tremble, unless we perhaps imagined 
that the heavenly spirit might be afraid of the powers of 
hell ? We need lament no longer over our solitude and deso 
lation, since we have so many, such powerful and faithful al 
lies. If only we do not voluntarily surrender ourselves to 
the enemy, and foolishly hold out our hands to him, to be 
fettered with chains, we shall not only come forth from the 
battle without a wound, but shall also put our foes to 
ignominious flight. 

Moses broke the power of the enemies of Israel by his 
prayer, Josue by brave battle ; and should we despair of 
victory, when the angels fight for us on earth and the Ser 
aphim pray for us in Heaven ? Let us only take care not 
to omit in our own affairs that which they do for others, 
viz., to battle and pray, and let us not despise the compan 
ionship which they so willingly and joyfully offer us. You 
may better understand the honor and happiness of this an 
gelic fellowship by a familiar illustration. Compare your 
self to a poor stray lamb, that is in danger of being de 
voured by a hundred ravenous wolves and is then suddenly 
surrounded by as many shepherds and saved from their 
jaws. How unhappy were this lamb, if it remained ex 
posed, solitary and alone, to such a number of enemies ? 
How happy and secure, however, is it, if not only the dogs, 
not only a single shepherd, but as many shepherds as wolves 
surround it ! We too are such weak lambs, surrounded by 
a hundred wolves, to whose fury we should undoubtedly 
succumb in our weakness, unless protectors, that are still 
stronger, come to our aid. Not only the pastors of the 
Church whom God has placed over us on earth, but even 
the princes of Heaven, come in great numbers to our succor. 
How grateful, then, should we be to them, how readily and 
gladly should we accept and make use of their assist 
ance ! How much should we endeavor to render ourselves 
worthy of their society and help, and to remain worthy of it! 

Grace Enjoys the Company of Angels. 31 1 

Let us, then, lead a life that is pleasing to them and that 
they can present without shame to the eye of God. Let us 
cultivate such heavenly manners, as are becoming to the so 
ciety of this heavenly court. Let our mind be averted 
from earthly things and be elevated to the angels in Heav 
en, where they stand before God. Let our heart be at 
tentive to their counsel and obedient to their inspirations. 
But, above all, let us, with high and noble courage, hold 
fast to grace, which makes us on earth already fellows and 
brethren of the angels, and which alone makes us worthy 
of their society and service. 

As soon as we give up grace, our soul ceases to be a 
child and spouse of God, and the whole heavenly court, 
which before surrounded us in such numbers and with such 
reverence, must at once disperse. As much as the angels 
honored and loved our soul on account of grace, so much 
must they loathe and flee from the soul which is so ter 
ribly mutilated and is lifeless by sin. In their stead, then, a 
whole band of evil spirits rushes upon us, to take possession 
of our soul, to torment and lacerate it, as the angels before 
remained inseparably with us, so they now will not leave us 
a moment, as long as we are in a state of sin, and they so 
hem us in on all sides, that our guardian angel can scarce 
ly find access to us. True, the angels, even then, do not 
cease to protect us and pray for us, but only as from a dis 
tance, and only for that end that they may with grace re 
turn to us. 

Behold St. Magdalen, who had experienced more, perhaps, 
than any other soul, the different effects of sin and grace. 
When she was still a sinner, a whole multitude of hellish 
spirits had taken possession of her ; but with grace a whole 
host of holy angels became her associates. Consider this 
example, I say, and then see and decide which of the two 
conditions you will prefer for yourself. 


Outside of Grace there is no True Happiness in this 



|F grace contains all the blessings which we have 
hitherto described, if it places us under a very 
special protection of Divine Providence and of 
the angels, then we may easily conclude what bliss and 
happiness it must prepare in this life already for all 
those who pos^esss and preserve it. Let us add that there 
is no true happiness to be found in this world outside of 
grace ; then certainly our own profit will leave us no other 
way open, and we are compelled, if we will be happy, to 
seek our happiness exclusively in grace. 

We need only invoke the witness of our own heart and 
of our daily experience to prove that the three principal 
things in which the world seeks its happiness, instead of 
making us happy and contented, make us more unhappy 
and miserable, the more we possess and enjoy them. These 
three things are sensual enjoyment, riches, and human 

If happiness consists in the full possession and enjoyment 
of all, and especially of the highest good, how could it then 
be found in sensual lust ? Sensual lust disgraces the nobil 
ity of our rational soul, obscures its spiritual vision, and 
drags it down to the lowest pleasure of the brutes, deprives 
the soul of its natural liberty, plunges us into the most 
ignominious slavery of the flesh, impels it to countless 
crimes and vices which cannot flow from true happiness, 
because true happiness is always good and pure. Aye, sen 
sual lust even enervates and destrovs the bodv and that es- 

No Happiness outside of Grace. 3 1 3 

pecially, when it is considered the highest happiness 
and is indulged in to the fullest extent without restraint. 
For as a field is spoiled and loses its fertility by the boggy 
water that remains standing on its soil, so, says St. Chry- 
sostom, is the body corrupted and destroyed by lust, is 
afflicted with innumerable, disgusting, and incurable dis 
eases ; it decays already in life, and its life is more misera 
ble than a manifold death. 

Since riches are only means to secure sensual pleasures 
or human honors, it is evident that they cannot give us 
true happiness. For such happiness is not sought as a 
means, but as an end and for its own sake, and must of it 
self satisfy all our desires in quiet possession and enjoyment. 
Moreover, riches are, as Holy Writ says, prickling thorns, 
which wound and lacerate us, whether they are pressed 
into our heart, or whether they are torn out again. They 
always create a desire for still greater riches, and since we 
do not always possess all that we desire, they make us 
truly poor and unfortunate. Only when we despise and 
contemn them, do they leave our heart in peace ; where 
fore our Saviour pronounces those happy only who are 
poor in spirit. 

But what shall we say of human honor, which is not 
within us, but without ? If it is a real and merited honor, 
it is always but a shadow of the virtues and gifts which 
we possess interiorly, and it were foolish to believe that 
the shell could give more happiness than the kernel. I 
will not mention how vain, how ambiguous, how Avaver- 
ing and uncertain this kind of goods is. St. Anselm apt 
ly portrays ambitious men, when he compares them to 
children who chase butterflies, but are every moment de 
ceived by their ever changing flight. In dumb haste these 
children run on, clap their empty hands together as if 
they were filled, rejoice as if they had caught the desired 
prey, whilst it has escaped them, and meanwhile they 
stumble, fall to the ground, cry, and sometimes even break 
a limb of their body. If they happen ever really to have 

314 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

caught the butterfly, they rejoice at their glorious prey 
and boast as if they had really made a precious gain. In 
the same manner,, the ambitious trouble and torment them 
selves in pursuit of fame which ever flees before them, 
and if they succeed in snatching a drop, they entirely for 
get how vain their joy is and how the next moment may 
again deprive them of it. 

As little as these three things can individually satisfy 
your soul, so little can they all taken together do so. They 
are too miserable to fill our heart ; so difficult to obtain, 
that we cannot possess them at all times and in equal 
measure; so transitory, that we must ever fear their speedy 
loss ; so small, that we must always desire more ; so dan 
gerous, that we cannot give ourselves up to them without 
reserve and fear, and enjoy in them a true peace. 

2. Our heart is created for Thee, God, and it is un 
quiet until it rests in Thee, says St. Augustine. Our 
soul is by nature already too noble to be contented with 
sensual and external goods. It is immortal and desires an 
eternal and immortal happiness. When it has no hope 
of such an eternal happiness, it cannot even in its earthly 
time be truly quiet and happy. 

How much less, then, can our soul find peace on earth, 
when it knows to what an exalted destiny it is called by grace ! 
A man of humble condition can be happy in his state of 
life and be contented with the gifts and enjoyments 
which it offers. But if he were received as an adopted child 
by a great king, or if he had fallen into this low condition 
by misfortune, but knew himself descended from royal 
ancestry, then he would find his lot unbearable, which 
to others seems good and enjoyable, and he would not 
rest until he had recovered royal glory. The same may be 
said of us. Even if we should suppose that the goods 
of this world can make a man happy, they cannot satisfy 
the heart of him who feels himself called to the dignity 
of the children of God and destined for Heaven. The 
human heart is so exalted that the whole world is far be- 

No Happiness outside of Grace. 3 1 5 

neath it, and so large and spacious,, that all created things 
cannot fill it, and that God Himself cannot satisfy it un 
less He infuse Himself and His whole glory and happiness 
into it. 

Or do you imagine, perhaps, that you may be able to for 
get your high vocation and basely attach your heart to the 
world and find pleasure in it ? But would not this cruel 
insensibility to your highest happiness be itself the greatest 
misfortune and the most degrading shame ? 

But no, you will never succeed and be happy in your 
lowliness and degradation. You may resist grace as much 
as you will, you may close your heart to its blessing, it 
will always enter into it, if not to fill it, at least to make it 
feel its infinite emptiness. Grace makes Heaven and in 
finite happiness a necessity for the human heart, and leaves 
it no moment to enjoy fully and peaceably the earthly and 
finite. The more your heart will crave earthly goods, 
the more will grace excite its hunger and thirst after the 
heavenly. And woe to you if you do not satisfy this hun 
ger and thirst by imbibing grace in full draught ! Grace 
and your own nature will take terrible revenge ; grace will 
be converted by God into a curse for the heart, which will 
not be made happy by it, and nature will rise up against 
him who cruelly and criminally will deprive it of its high 
est good and eternal happiness. 

66 ye sons of men, liow long will you be dull of heart? 
Wliy do you love vanity and seek after lying 9 Know ye that 
the Lord hath made His holy one wonderful." l Thus the 
Psalmist speaks to all who would seek their happiness on 
earth outside of grace. For everywhere we find, as Solomon 
did, nothing but "vanity and vanity of vanities," and 
in the end we must confess with him, that " all is vanity 
and vexation of spirit" 

3. Grace, however, which makes us saints, gives us the 
highest and only happiness that we can possess on earth. 
I will not even mention that happiness which is imparted 

1 Ps. iv. 3, 4. 

316 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

to us in Heaven through grace ; but only that which it 
prepares for us in this life. 

There is, first, the hope of heavenly happiness, which 
alone, if we had nothing else, would render our heart more 
happy than the full enjoyment of all earthly goods. The 
mere consciousness that the heavenly joys infinitely tran- 
scend all idea and conception of the human soul, and that, on 
the part of God, they are infallibly certain this conscious 
ness alone is powerful enough to perfectly comfort and 
quiet our heart. 

But in grace we possess the highest and infinite good, 
not only by hope, but in truth and reality in our very 
heart, and we may already embrace it and taste its sweet 
ness. By grace we bear God truly and substantially in us, 
call Him our own with perfect right, and hold Him so 
firmly, that no power in Heaven or on earth can rob Him 
from us. By it we embrace Him with the arms of holy 
charity, press Him to our bosom, enclose Him in our heart, 
and are so penetrated by Him, that we are one heart and one 
soul with Him. By the union with God in grace, we al 
ready enjoy the highest delight and the sweetest pleasures, 
which so far surpass all sensual pleasures, as Heaven sur 
passes the earth ; we possess the greatest wealth in possess 
ing Him who has created all and whose greatness knows 
no limit ; we enjoy the highest honor, since we appear tru 
ly great in the eyes of the infinite God and of His holy an 
gels, and are unspeakably honored and respected by them. 

Above all, however, grace gives us that sweet, heavenly 
peace which the Son of God has brought upon earth, the 
peace of Christ, of which the Apostle says : "Let the 
peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your 
hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

As this peace is the principal fruit of grace, so it is the 
first condition of a true and perfect happiness. Indeed, 
peace is something so heavenly, that the world does not 
even pretend to be capable of giving it to us. It promises 

1 Phil. iv. 7. 

No Happiness oiitside of Grace. 3 1 7 

its children glory, pleasure, and enjoyment, but not peace ; 
yea, it seeks to persuade them that true happiness does 
not consist in the quiet of peace, but in uninterrupted 
change and eternal variety. Oh, the imposter ! What is 
happiness but the quiescence of desire, and where do we 
find this quiescence, if not in peace ? 

If grace, however, promises us happiness, we should be 
lieve this promise already, because it places true happiness 
in peace. But it also really gives us this peace, by uniting 
our heart in unchangeable love with the eternal and immut 
able goodness of God and in Him with all men, by 
grounding us upon God as upon an immovable rock, and 
by letting us rest in Him as in the fountain of all life and 
happiness. And nothing in the world can rob or impair 
this heavenly and Divine peace and happiness, as long as 
we remain in grace. Though we lose all else, though all that 
which the world calls misfortune and misery break in upon us, 
as long as we possess God, we possess all ; He alone suffices, 
He alone fills our heart, so that it requires nothing else. 

Yes, all suffering and mishap is rendered not only bear 
able, but sweet and pleasant for the children of grace by 
its heavenly balsam. They esteem themselves happy to 
suffer anything for God and for Heaven ; for God, to give 
Him proof of their gratitude and devotion ; for Heaven, to 
merit it at least to that extent that it may not seem to 
have been granted to them altogether gratuitously. Grace 
not only hallows and glorifies all the good it finds in na 
ture, but, excepting sin, also the imperfections and evils of 
nature, and renders them so highly valuable, that the 
saints ask nothing more of God than to be overwhelmed 
with pain and suffering. 

But if grace converts all bitterness into sweetness, all 
suffering into riches, all sorrow into joy, by giving us that 
peace which the world cannot give ; if it leads us to enjoy 
God in this life, and adds, besides, the sweet hope of eter 
nal salvation ; is it not true, then, that it makes us tru 
ly happy already on earth ? Why do we still hesitate to 

318 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

cast ourselves into its arms, and to seek in it the only true 
peace and perfect happiness for our heart ? Let us not be 
deceived by the vain appearances by which the world en 
deavors to stifle and lull into quiet the deep desire of our 
heart after true happiness. Let us listen to the loud call 
of the ardent, intimate, and infinite longing which grace 
itself elicits in our heart ; let us hearken to the unspeak 
able groanings which the Holy Ghost produces in it, and 
let us follow them to the source whence they proceed ; then 
we shall not be misled, and shall enjoy here in advance 
the happiness of Heaven. 

4. It will scarcely be necessary, Christian reader, to 
describe to you how unhappy and miserable you are ren 
dered by the loss of grace and by sin. 

The misery of sin corresponds exactly to the happiness 
prepared for you by grace. The sinner loses the certain 
prospect of the eternal happiness of Heaven, and in its 
place inspires the fear of His dreadful punishment, by 
which God will, in a fearful manner, avenge the contempt 
of His grace and His Heaven. He loses the sweet peace 
with God and with himself, and instead falls into the most 
wretched discord with God and with himself, which must 
embitter all his joys and pleasures. As the supernatural, 
heavenly peace of grace composed him into happiest qui 
escence, so the discord of sin casts him into the most pain 
ful disquietude. Every blessing is for him converted into a 
curse. He is a reprobate in the eyes of God, and may not 
dare to look up with confidence to his angry Judge. His 
heart is agitated and distracted, his nature rebels against 
him, and if all creatures do not rise up against him to de 
stroy him, the despiser of his loving Creator, it is an addi 
tional evidence of the forbearance and patience of God, 
who awaits his penance. 

If you have ever been in this terrible condition yourself, 
Christian reader, you will have experienced how empty 
and desolate was your heart ; how much it was oppressed 
by the curse of God and tortured by the sting of con- 

No Happiness outside of Grace. 3 1 9 

science. And if you have not felt it, it was only a sign that 
you had lost every knowledge, every idea of true happiness, 
and that, in blindest self-deceit, you esteemed death life, 
and misery happiness. But that, certainly, is the greatest 
misfortune, not even to know true happiness, and that is 
the fulness of misery, to love misery itself and not even 
desire to escape from it. 

Render thanks, therefore, to God, if His grace brought 
you to the knowledge of your misery, and inflamed in you 
the desire of deliverance. But who knows whether in 
future He will again save you, if you relapse into sin ? 


The Grace of God makes us far Happier than does 
the Grace of Man. 


|INCE most men seek their happiness in the favor 
of princes and the great men of the world, rath 
er than in the grace of God, we must conde 
scend,, though the comparison appear very unworthy, to 
place the grace of God by the side of human grace, in order 
to see which of the two makes us happier, even in this life. 

If we possess the grace of God, Ave have no need of the 
grace of man, or if this be useful to us, we shall, with the 
help of God, certainly obtain it. God, by His grace, can, 
besides, protect us from the ill-will of men and of princes, 
and render it harmless for us. The favor of the great ones 
of this earth can profit us nothing without the grace of 
God ; it cannot obtain for us this grace, nor much less pro 
tect us from the terrible consequences of the disfavor of 
God. On the contrary, when this favor of men is courted 
and appreciated beyond due, it is only too often the cause 
of our falling into disgrace with God. For only too often 
men require, as a condition for their favor, things which 
we cannot reconcile with our conscience and the obedience 
due to God. 

Woe to us, then, if we fear men more than God ! " God 
hath scattered the bones of them that please men." They 
will perish together with them and will recognize, too 
late, that they have founded their hope upon a weak 
and fragile reed, and not upon an immovable rock. 

After all, what can the favor of men grant us that is 
good and great, and that can render us truly happy ? 

Divine and Human Grace. 321 

It can only grant us external goods, riches,, and honors, 
but it cannot enrich our interior : it cannot give us great 
er mental faculties, greater knowledge, a better and more 
perfect will, in a word, it cannot interiorly render us any 
better than we really are. The desire for such favor, on 
the contrary, excites in our soul every passion and vicious 
inclination ; there is nothing that alienates our heart more 
from virtue and induces it to every wickedness, than the 
inordinate desire to please men. It leads to the practice 
of every possible cunning and deceit, flattery and hypocrisy ; 
it impels one to belittle, slight, arid calumniate the other; it 
engenders the bitterest envy and the most burning jealousy, 
implacable hatred, and eternal enmity amongst rivals ; and 
the best will of a king is unable to prevent these sins. 

The grace of God, however, beautifies, transforms, and 
perfects our soul ; it confers upon it an internal glory and 
improves all its faculties. It will never give occasion to 
sin or any other evil ; on the contrary, it infuses all virtues 
into our heart and constantly stimulates and nourishes 
them. We need practise no artifice, no intrigue to acquire 
it, since it is offered gratuitously by God ; aye, every sin, 
every injustice is an impediment to its acquisition, and we 
enjoy it the more, the more we wish others to share it with 
us and all to receive it. 

Furthermore, men have not the power to let us truly and 
lastingly enjoy the benefits which they offer us. A king 
may offer his favorites riches and pleasures in abundance ; 
he is unable, however, to grant them also enduring health 
and vigor of life, without which they must perish in the 
midst of abundance. He may surround them with influ 
ence and high honors, and command his subjects to serve 
them, but he cannot compel a sincere respect and an in 
terior love, and an affected and mere outward reverence is 
more bitter in the end than retirement. But if a king 
were capable even of all this, how could he give his court 
iers that interior peace and the sweet quiescence of the 
heart which is the vital part of all true happiness ? 

322 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

In the hand of God, however, is health and life ; in 
His hand are the hearts of men and He inclines them to 
whomsoever He will ; in His hand is that heavenly, Divine 
peace which fills our heart to its innermost depth. Is not 
this sufficient reason to esteem the grace of God infinite 
ly higher than the grace of men and of kings ? 

2. Yet we have still another reason. The grace of the 
great ones of this earth is uncertain and changeable as the 
wind ; the grace of God, however, is certain and unchange 
able. Who would not admire the high favor which Da 
vid enjoyed with Saul, being made his armor-bearer and 
having to remain constant^ in his presence, to soothe and 
calm him in his trouble ? And yet in the short time thftt 
David was absent from court he was so forgotten by 
Saul, that Saul neither remembered his name, nor his fam 
ily, nor his rank, and upon being roused by the heroic vic 
tory over Goliath, inquired who this David was. That is 
the result of the services and the devotion which we 
waste upon men : thus ends their favor : it vanishes like 
a dream, and as a light feather is carried away by 
the wind. 

Assuerus was indebted to Mardocheus for his life, since, 
by his fidelity and solicitude, the latter had averted from 
him the swords of the conspirators. But how long did he 
wait until he accidentally remembered his deliverer, 
and how long was Mardocheus without the favor of the 
king, which he had merited in such high degree ! 

But Thou, my God, never avertest Thine eye from 
those who seek and preserve Thy grace ; with care and in 
fallible accuracy dost Thou examine all their deeds and 
works which may render them more worthy of Thy favor. 
Thou dost never forget either them or any of their merits. 
Thy grace, Thy favor extend even beyond the limits of 
time : they last forever. 

Oh, what an injustice we do Thee when besides Thy 
grace, or in place of it, we esteem and seek the grace 
of men ! Do not permit us in future to prefer men to 

Divine and Human Grace. 323 

Thee, or even hold them as Thy equal, lest we meet the 
terrible curse : " Cursed he the man that trusteth in 
man," but that we may rather hear the consoling bless 
ing : Blessed are they that hope in the Lord : their 
hope will not he confounded. 

1 Jerem. xvii. 5. 


In Grace we find the Highest Enlightenment, the 
Truest Liberty, and the Greatest Progress. 


jNLIGHTENMENT, liberty, progress these are 
the great catch-words which the spirit of the pres 
ent uses to designate the highest blessings of 
mankind. They are beautiful words, of great and sub 
lime meaning, and therefore they kindle, like an elec 
tric spark, every heart that is not yet entirely insensible to 
human dignity and human happiness. But the world is 
guilty of an impudent falsehood, when it claims for itself 
the discovery and possession of these three things, and pre 
tends that it is the first to proclaim them. The joyful 
message of Divine grace, which Christ brought down upon 
earth, proclaimed nothing else than enlightenment, liber 
ty, and progress. 

" I am the light of the world" says our Divine Saviour. 
" The night is passed and the day is at hand."* "You were 
heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord," exclaims 
the Apostle. 3 " If the Son shall make you free, you shall 
be free indeed," says Christ, 4 and His apostles teach us 5 that 
this liberty is " the liberty of the glory of the children of 
God." " Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," we 
are told by the Son of God, and the prince of the apostles 
admonishes us: " Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,"* "that you may be able 
to comprehend, witli all the saints, what is the breadth and 

- John viii. 12. 2 Rom. xiii. 12. :i Eph. v. 8. 

* John viii. 36. Rom- viii. 21. 6 II. Peter iii. 18. 

Enlightenment, Liberty, Progress. 325 

length and height and depth .... and that you may be 
filled unto all the fulness of God." 1 

The highest enlightenment,, the truest liberty, and the 
greatest progress are given mankind by nothing else than 
by the grace of God, which Christ has brought upon earth. 
The world, however, intends an enlightenment,, a liberty, 
and a progress without God and in defiance of God, through 
and for itself alone. But this enlightenment is only dark 
ness, this liberty is the lowest servitude and slavery, this 
progress is naught but complete retrogression and decay. 
" Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, com 
ing down from the Father of lights," says St. James. 2 
The enlightenment, liberty, and progress which humanity 
can of itself work out, at best do not transcend the narrow 
limits of human nature and its natural faculties ; grace, 
however, brings us a supernatural and Divine enlighten 
ment and liberty ; it elevates us above our nature to the 
infinite nature of God, and thus renders possible for us a 
progress which knows neither end nor limit. 

2. What do we understand by enlightenment and cul 
ture ? Certainly a high illumination of our soul in respect 
to the highest and sublimest truths concerning our con 
dition, our last end, and the means for attaining it. But 
what high illumination can we obtain without Christian 
grace ? Nothing, then, is left us but our own natural rea 
son and that of our fellow-men, or perhaps, too, the wis 
dom of that hellish serpent which enlightened our first 
parents in paradise and cast them into deepest misery. 
Our reason can, at the highest, enlighten us about sensual 
things, about our natural dignity and destiny, though it 
can do even this only with great difficulty and liability to 

But, unfortunately, those who call themselves the apostles 
of enlightenment, do not even attempt to really cultivate 
the mind. They deem it great wisdom to lower man to 
the level of a brute, to contradict the immortality of his 

1 Eph.iil. 18. a James i. 17- 

326 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

soul, to deny his eternal destiny. They give sensuality the 
place of reason, they decry the consciousness of spiritual 
and Divine things as darkness and superstition, and demand 
that we be entirely absorbed in the study and enjoyment 
of sensual things. By their enlightenment they will de 
liver us from the guardianship of the Church and of God 
Himself, and instead we shall be placed under the tutelage 
of a flippant, ever changing public opinion, of the bluster 
ing boastf ulness of other men, who would make their fool 
ish notions and vagaries the measure of all truth and wis 

Grace, however, does indeed place us under the guardian 
ship of God, because it makes us children of God. Yet, 
as it is no ignominous disgrace to be the child of God, but 
rather our highest honor and greatest happiness, so we 
must esteem ourselves happy to be under the tutelage of 
God and to attend His instruction. For here truth will 
reveal itself in all its fulness and glory. Here we are en 
lightened by a supernatural light, which by its infallibility 
dispels all doubt, by its mighty splendor disperses the 
clouds that conceal the deepest mysteries from our view, 
enlarges our horizon infinitely, and elevates us far above the 
earth and all earthly things. Grace makes manifest our 
entire dignity, by which we are not only men, but true 
children of God ; it reveals to us our supernatural destiny, 
which we are to attain in the beatific vision of God ; with 
unerring security it points out the way that leads to heav 
enly happiness. It not only develops the light of our 
reason, but adds another infinitely higher light. It eman 
cipates us from all prejudices by which we are blinded ; 
yea, it alone emancipates us from the slavery of human 
respect and so-called public opinion, and gives us an infal 
lible security in judging all important things, the world 
itself and all its ways and actions : " The spiritual man," 
says the Apostle, 1 " judgeth all things : and he himself is 
judged of no man." 

1 I Cor. ii.15. 

Enlightenment^ Liberty, Progress. 327 

Who now would dare assert that the grace of Christ is 
opposed to enlightenment,, and not rather that it alone 
gives us true enlightenment ? How can we be intimidated 
by the world, when it mocks and insults us by calling us 
obscurantists ? With holy pride we should, in imitation of 
the first Christians, call ourselves the enlightened and illu 
minated, since we enjoy the great happiness of having 
been delivered from the darkness of the world and been 
called by God into His admirable light. 

As the Christian alone is truly enlightened by grace, so he 
alone is truly cultured and refined. The world understands 
by culture an exterior, polished, and accomplished manner 
and bearing, or at the highest, a greater or lesser educa 
tion of the natural mental faculties, which appears great 
and splendid in the eyes of man, but in the eyes of God it 
appears as nothing. The highest and truest culture is that 
which impresses upon our soul the image of God, which 
transforms us into a Divine form and glory, and qualifies 
us to lead a heavenly life on earth as domestics of God and 
associates of the angels. This is the culture which alone 
corresponds to our exalted dignity, a culture to which, in 
their heart at least, even the children of the world cannot 
deny admiration ; and which they denounce and revile, 
only because in its presence they feel their utter baseness 
and lowliness, and because they hate to see that others 
attain that which, to their mean comprehension and miser 
able weakness, seems unattainable. 

3. The second gift, which the world boastfully promises 
but which can be obtained really and perfectly only by 
grace, is liberty. There is no word more abused and mis 
interpreted than this ; and at first glance it would seem 
that grace were the last thing that could give us true lib 
erty. But a closer consideration will entirely enlighten us. 

Liberty can be good only inasmuch as it is a liberty 
from evil and from the impediments to good, or as it is a 
liberty for good. The liberty, then, to be able to choose 
the good and the evil is only in so far a good and perfect 

328 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

gift, as we may thereby determine ourselves for the good. 
We must desire to lose this liberty in Heaven, so that we 
may, like God, have only the faculty to will the good. 
Grace gives us freedom from all evil, and freedom for all, 
even the highest, good. It is grace alone which delivers us 
from the greatest of all evils, from sin and the eternal 
punishment due to sin. It is grace which gives us the 
power to free our spirit from the preponderance of sensual 
desires that draws it down from its height to the level 
of the brute. It is grace which will one day deliver us 
from all pain and suffering, from all disease, and from 
death itself, to which we are subject as long as we are im 
prisoned in our frail and mortal body. It is grace which 
breaks through the barrier that separates our nature from 
the sublimity of God, and from servants makes us children 
of God. It is grace which enables us, not only to practise 
the natural virtues, but to perform supernatu rally good 
acts and works, by which we can merit the heavenly hap 
piness. In a word, grace frees and delivers us from all 
that can impede or disturb our highest happiness, and 
qualifies us for everything that is conducive to this happi 
ness, and hence makes us free in the same manner as God 
is free. 

Only of the dependence upon God it cannot and must 
not deprive us ; for as we can triumph over all impedi 
ments and enemies of our happiness only through God 
and His grace, we must remain subject to and dependent 
upon Him. But this dependence, too, is our highest and 
sweetest liberty, since it is nothing else than the most 
intimate and sublime union and unity with God. As the 
child is subject to the father, and the spouse to her be 
trothed, but very differently from the servant, in such a 
way, namely, that both, as it were, form but one person ; so 
we are by grace perfectly one with God : His liberty is our 
liberty, His dominion our dominion, His affair is our 
affair. And if we serve Him, it is not out of slavish fear, 
not even with the love of a servant, but with the freest and 

Enlightenment, Liberty, Progress. 329 

noblest love of a child towards its father, of the beloved 
towards his spouse. 

This high and heavenly liberty of the children of God, 
this liberty of grace, is promised by Christianity to all men 
who will accept the power to be made the sons of God, and 
who will profit by this power. All men, without exception, 
fromtho mightiest king to the most wretched slave, from 
the richest to the poorest, from the master to the servant, 
may obtain this liberty ; all have a right to this liberty. 
ft"o earthly power can rob us of it ; we carry it with 
us, even if we are confined in chains and fetters, and 
obliged to assume the service of a slave. This liberty 
makes the servant equal to the master, the subject equal to 
the ruler ; and if the former serves the latter, he does so 
out of free love for God, who ordained the different condi 
tions of life, and he knows that, if he surpasses his master 
in grace, he is, in the eyes of God, superior to, and more 
free than the other. 

Where are now the apostles of liberty, who promise us 
liberty without the grace of God ? Oh, how shamefully 
do they abuse this high and noble word, to cloak the most 
degraded and miserable servitude and slavery ! For as 
there is no other good without God, so there is no true 
liberty ; this is rather a special prerogative of the Divinity 
and, therefore, forms in us its sublimest image. Desiring to 
be free without God is the same as desiring to exist with 
out God. Just when man of himself will be equal to God, 
and make himself another God, he relapses into his entire 
nothingness and into the most abject servitude. 

Freedom without God is not freedom from evil and 
freedom for virtue, but is freedom or separation from good 
and hence slavery of sin and evil. He who seeks his free 
dom in casting off the sweet yoke of grace and justice, 
takes upon himself the severe yoke of sin and its punish 
ment, and becomes a slave to sin. He loses the sublime 
dignity of the children of God, and descends to the level of 
the brute and the devil. As long as he does not turn 

330 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

again to God and subject himself again to Him, he has 
lost the power of rising again from sin and raising himself 
up to Heaven. He loses the control over his passions and 
is with superior violence carried along by them to every 
abomination. Instead of being liberated after death from 
the burden of his flesh, and seeing this itself redeemed from 
its frailty, he is eternally fettered to his body as to a prison 
and to an instrument of torture. Instead of being eter 
nally a friend of God and reigning with Him, he is made a 
slave of the devil, who punishes and torments him with 
tyrannical power and violence. 

May the grace of God save us from such liberty ! May 
it enlighten us, so that we may recognize our true salva 
tion and seek that liberty alone which He Himself has 
brought from Heaven ! Then we will know how to appre 
ciate every other liberty in political and civil affairs which 
the spirit of our times makes so much of. We will not 
over-estimate it and always seek first to acquire and pre 
serve the liberty of the spirit and of conscience. 

4. As the world clamors for enlightenment and culture, 
so, likewise, it clamors for progress. Restless, unimpeded 
progress is the pass-word, especially in our days. But 
whither shall we progress ? This is certainly a legitimate 
question. The friends of progress cannot tell us ; they 
answer that the whole existing order of things must be 
torn down, and something built up in its place. They 
feel that nothing on earth is sufficient for them, that 
nothing satisfies them. But can they elevate themselves 
above the earth, and soar up to Heaven ? Indeed, not. 
This is precisely the progress of grace. It is a progress by 
the hand of God, which leads and bears us on ; a progress 
which raises us above the earth, above our own self, and 
brings us to God ; a progress which, with one courageous 
bound, crosses the infinite distance between the finite and 
the infinite, and introduces us into the bosom, of God ; 
a progress which never stands still, which always proceeds, 
as grace may increase and expand infinitely without meas- 

Enlightenment, Liberty, Progress. 331 

nre and end ; a progress which does not improve the health 
of the body or our natural education, but which trans 
forms soul and body from glory to glory into the image of 
God. It is a progress like that of the eagle, which with 
powerful flight rises from the earth to the sun. The pro 
gress, however, which the world attempts with its native 
faculties alone, is as the slow creeping of a worm upon the 
earth, which drags itself along with great labor, and can 
not rise from the ground to which it adheres. We should 
certainly smile to hear this worm boast to the eagle of its 
great progress, after it had crept over a small space of 
earth. But must not God and His holy angels in Heaven 
also smile, if we dare to speak thus, or rather must He not 
be justly angered at the foolish boast of men, when they 
have made a new invention for greater facility and com 
fort of travel and intercourse ? 

Let us place the same estimation on the progress of the 
world, as God and the angels do, and let us be little con 
cerned, if the world scornfully call us men of retrogres 
sion. The world knows not what it wants and what it 
says ; we, however, know what we want. We know that 
we are borne aloft on the pinions of God, and may thus as 
cend from earth to Heaven. We know that God will per 
fect the work which lie has begun in us. 1 We know that 
the whole doctrine of Christianity is nothing else than an 
invitation to ceaseless growth and progress. Only for that 
purpose did the Son of God descend from Heaven, to build 
us a bridge thither, to take us upon His shoulders, as the 
eagle takes its young, and thus to carry us Heavenward. 

Well, then, let us show the world that we are as earnest 
about our progress as it is about its progress. Let us at 
least command the respect and reverence of the world, by 
zeal and energy in pursuing our progress ; for it is the in 
dolence of the Christian which exposes him mostly and 
justly to the derision of the world. 

1 Phil i. 6. 

How much the Angels esteem Grace. 


I HOUGH we have not by far enumerated and 
described all the glories and privileges of grace, 
those already mentioned are certainly great and 
numerous enough to induce us to esteem,, love, and ap 
preciate grace above all other things, as the highest 
good God has granted us. In order, however, to encour 
age and confirm us still more in this love and esteem, we 
will now consider the examples which we ought to set be 
fore us herein. We have already considered God s estima 
tion of grace ; next to God, however, none know its value 
better than the blessed angels and the saints ; the former, 
because they are already in full possession and enjoyment 
of grace, the latter, because by grace- they have been made 
so great and glorious even on earth. 

The angels manifest their love and esteem for grace, 
first, by descending from Heaven for its sake, to assist us 
in its acquisition and preservation. The great and un 
remitting zeal they manifest, their anxious solicitude to 
guard and protect this treasure, not for themselves but 
for others, ought to be a stimulus for us to employ at least 
the same zeal and diligence in our own affairs. 

We learn this great esteem, however, particularly from 
the ineffable joy which the angels experience when we ob 
tain grace or make progress in it. This great joy of the 
angels is described to us by their King Himself, the Son of 
God, in the words : <( There shall be joy in Heaven upon one 
sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninty-nine just 

How the Angels Esteem Grace. 333 

who need not penance. " The angels then rejoice overall 
the just on earth; but still more they naturally rejoice over 
the sinner who, contrary to expectation, recovers the lost 
gift of grace. 

How great and glorious, then, must this good be, which 
fills the angels, who are always drunk with the stream of 
highest happiness, with such great delight, and excites in 
them so much sympathy ! Many men acquire immense 
wealth, attain to high posts of honor, ascend the sublimest 
thrones and govern the most flourishing empires, acquire 
fame by brilliant victories, by works of science and art ; 
yet this does not affect the blessed citizens of Heaven ; 
they seem not even to notice these glories, much less do 
they compliment those who obtain them, or their friends 
and relatives. But if a poor beggar, or a person forgotten 
and deserted by all, is led back again to grace, then there 
is a feast of joy, and the angels hasten to offer their con 
gratulations to that despised soul. 

A rich merchant, who always deals in high values and 
is accustomed to great profits only, esteems small profits as 
nothing; he scarcely takes notice of them, and what oth 
ers would consider a very happy possession appears to him 
as loss and detriment. Those glittering trifles which give 
little children the greatest joy are scarcely honored with a 
compassionate smile by grown persons. Let us, then, imi 
tate the angels, who are certainly richer and more sensible 
than we men ; let us leave the joy at the gain of earthly 
things and brilliant vanities to the poor, foolish chil 
dren of the world, and let us be persuaded of having 
made a great and true profit, when we have obtained or in 
creased grace. 

That joy alone which springs from grace is pure and 
perfect enough to expel all sadness from our heart. There 
fore we say with the Prophet : 2 ( I will greatly rejoice in 
the Lord, and my soul shall le joyful in my God ; for He 
hath clothed me wifh the garments of salvation, and with 

1 Luke xv. 7. - Is. Ixi. 10. 

334 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

the robe of justice lie hath covered me, as a bride-groom 
decked with a crown, and as a bride adorned witli her jew 
els ; " that is, with the grace, the virtues, and the gifts of 
the Holy Ghost. Let us rejoice, as our Saviour directs, 
because our " names are written in Heaven" * in the book 
of the children of God, and of the heirs of the kingdom of 

2. The joy which the angels experience, when by grace 
we are introduced to the friendship of God, appears to 
have principally three motives : the first is God, the second 
is the angels themselves, and the third is we men. 

In the first place, the angels rejoice on account of God, 
because they know how much He desires to reconcile us 
with Himself, to find us again and to receive us into His 
bosom. The Son of God compares Himself to a shepherd, 
who seeks us stray sheep in the desert with longing desire, 
takes us upon His shoulders, carries us home and then 
calls together His friends and neighbors, saying : " Re 
joice with me, because I have found my sheep that was 
lost." 2 How ready must the angels be to follow this invi 
tation of their King ! How enraptured must they be by 
His indescribable love for us, and hasten to share His joy 
and to congratulate Him ! 

In the second place, the angels rejoice on account of 
themselves, because by grace we are made their brethren 
and fellows and are called to occupy those thrones in Heav 
en which the sin of the fallen angels has left vacant. Far 
from being filled with jealousy and malice towards us, for 
being made equal to them by grace, though by nature 
we are so far inferior they, on the contrary, have no 
greater desire than to share with us their honor and hap. 
piness. They desire to see the pride of their fallen 
brethren avenged and humbled by this, that we, not 
withstanding the lowliness of our nature, occupy their 
places by the condescension of God. This reason, how 
ever, must incite us also to a great esteem for grace, 

1 Luke x. CO. 2 Ibid. xv. G. 

How the Angels Esteem Grace. 335 

because by its possession we attain to the glory of the 
Seraphim, but by its loss we are made similar to the devil 
and involved in his deep ruin. 

Finally, the angels rejoice on our account, because grace 
imparts to us the greatest happiness and regenerates us into 
children and heirs of their King. What joy is not created 
at the court of an earthly king by the birth of a crown- 
prince ! What rejoicings fill every heart, what splendid 
feasts are instituted ! But of all this jubilation the new 
born heir can experience nothing, when he first sees the 
light of the world. We, however, know what joy exists in 
the heavenly court, when in the sacrament of penance we 
are received again as children of God, or when by good 
works we increase grace in us. And should we who 
are the object of it all, alone remain cold and indifferent 
to all this joy that surrounds us, to all the felicitations 
that overwhelm us ? 

"We made the angels rejoice," says St. Bernard, "when 
we were converted to penance ; let us hasten, then, to 
make their joy over us complete." Yet, what do I say ? 
the joy of the angels no, that of the whole heavenly court, 
with its most holy queen and the adorable Trinity itself, 
which lets us receive the congratulations of the whole 
Heaven, because it is so desirous of our salvation, though 
it receives no benefit whatever from our possessing its grace. 
O inestimable gift of grace ! first and principal object 
of the care of God and the congratulations of saints and 
angels ! Indeed, let us hasten to complete the joy of God 
and His angels, by growing daily in grace through good 
works and by preserving it pure and entire unto death, that 
we may then really be received into the society of the angels, 
and in union with them praise God forever. 

But how shocking and abominable it would be if we 
were to destroy again, by a disgraceful relapse into sin, 
this joy of the angels, after it had scarcely begun to exist ; 
if we were, so to speak, to mock these honorable congratu 
lations and render them in vain, if we were to convert this 

336 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

great joy into deep sorrow, by which the angels of peace 
must again be dissolved in tears ! Oh, that the angels of 
peace may save us from such a barbarous cruelty ! May 
the Divine goodness maintain and confirm what it has 
worked in us, and make us firm pillars in the teniple of 


We must have a Greater Esteem for Grace in us, 

than the Angels and the Saints of the 

Old Law. 


IF the angels so esteem the grace in us and so rejoice 
at it, we may infer how much they love and honor 
grace in themselves. They have so firmly defended 
grace in themselves, that they never stained or lost it by the 
least sin, and for its protection have waged the fiercest con 
test with their rebellious brethren. Now, I say, we must 
love and esteem our grace far more than the angels did their 
grace, because ours is far more precious and valuable. 

First, the grace of the angels has cost neither them nor 
God anything ; God had infused it into them without la 
bor, without sacrifice, by His mere liberality and an act of 
His omnipotence. But for us this pearl has been pur 
chased by the sweat, the suffering, the blood and death of 
the Son of God. Therefore, because our grace has cost so 
much, we must be more grateful for the smallest degree of 
grace than the angels for all that abundance of grace 
which was heaped upon them. 

The heart of God also cherishes and holds dear every de 
gree of grace in us, as a mother loves that one of her sons 
whom she has educated with greater labor and danger, as 
the patriarch Jacob loved Benjamin, the son of the pain of 
his dear Rachel ; as King David loved the castle of Sion more 
than his native city, because he had taken it with great dif 
ficulty and in bloody battle. Far more, then, should we 
hold the smallest share of grace dear and sacred, since we 
enjoy its profit and benefit. 

338 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

But if the fall of Lucifer, who lost grace as speedily and 
easily as he had obtained it, was suddenly followed by so 
great a confusion of Heaven, that he and his associates 
were at once precipitated into the deepest abyss, how much 
should he lament his fall who is made a traitor not only to 
his Creator, but also to his lovinj Rodoemer, by so frivol 
ously risking the grace bought so dearly and laboriously ? 
He insults the precious blood, the adorable suffering and 
death of the Son of God, which no angel did, and therefore 
has more reason to lament his fall than the reprobate 
angels have to mourn theirs. Woe to us, if we nevertheless 
are blind to the greatness of this loss and can behold it 
with indifference ! 

Moreover, the angels receive grace once only, and having 
once lost it, did not receive it again. We all, however, had 
lost it in Adam, lost it so frequently by our personal sins, 
and receive it a second time and so frequently again after 
we have lost it. Every good is prized more highly by its 
possessor, when he recovers it after having lost it, than if he 
had never lost it, or receives it for the first time. Thus the 
shepherd has a special joy over the sheep that is found again, 
the father over the return of the lost son, the widow over the 
recovered coin, greater than over every other thing that was 
never lost. Therefore the Saviour Himself says, that He 
and His angels have greater joy upon the penance of a sin 
ner, than upon ninety-nine just that do not need penance. 
Should we alone not esteem the treasure of grace more dear 
and precious after having found it again ? Should we in fu 
ture be equally careless about preserving it, or perhaps even 
risk it oftener and with greater recklessness, because we 
may hope to obtain it again ? Be this far from us. Rath 
er will we, after having once had the misfortune of losing 
it, preserve it henceforth with greater care, if possible, 
than the angels, who never lost it, lest otherwise we per 
haps lose it forever. 

Our grace appears still more precious compared with the 
grace of the angels, if we consider that the angels are in- 

How we should Esteem Grace. 339 

deed children of God, but not, as we are, members of 
Christ, We, however, by grace are made living members of 
the body of Christ, who has accepted our nature. As the 
dignity of our Head is reflected upon us, a new lustre is 
added to our grace, our nature has a certain claim to grace, 
and our merits receive a very particular strength. God 
must love us more than He loves the angels, since He be 
holds His Son in our midst and considers us as one with 
Himself. In Christ our nature was elevated above all the 
choirs of angels, and we all share the honor of our 

Truly, if the angels were capable of envy, they would be 
tempted to it, notwithstanding the lowliness of our nature, 
because God has so extraordinarily favored us. How, then, 
could we be so mean as to esteem this enviable gift, the 
grace of Christ, so little, and to postpone it to anything else ? 
Let us emulate the holy angels in their high estimate of 
grace ; and if they possess more light and strength to use 
it well, we have more reasons thereto ; if they could pre 
serve it easily and without labor, we ought to account it a 
particular honor to be able to suffer something and make 
some sacrifices for its sake. The Lord in Heaven will be 
hold this emulation with great pleasure, and the angels 
themselves will gladly assist us therein. 

2. Although the saints of the Old Law have also received 
grace through the merits of Christ and under the same cir- 
stances that exalt it above the grace of the angels, yet 
their grace did not enjoy all those prerogatives with which 
the coming of Christ has endowed it. 

First, the grace of the Old Law did not give the just that 
full liberty of the children of God, did not deliver them 
from the bondage of the law, and did not permit them 
that sublime familiarity with God, which Christ has 
granted us, saying : " All things whatsoever I have heard of 
My Father I have made known to you." 1 Furthermore, 
their grace had not the power to introduce the children of 

1 John xv. 15- 

34-O The Glories of Divine Grace. 

God immediately after death into the inheritance of their 
Father, into the kingdom of Heaven, but left them in ex 
pectancy in hell, until the death of Christ. Neither did it 
give them that plenitude of the Holy Ghost, that sweet 
and strong charity, that spiritual and heavenly mind, 
which Christ gave His disciples after His resurrection. In 
consequence thereof, the observance of the Divine law was 
not so easy, sweet, and pleasant a yoke to them as the 
merits and the example of Christ have made it for us. 
Lastly, the saints of the Old Law had not the happiness 
to be united so intimately to Christ, the fountain of grace, 
in the holy sacrament of the altar, to feed truly, really, 
and substantially upon the heavenly bread of the children 
of God, and to imbibe in the other sacraments the stream 
of grace of the blood of Christ. 

And yet they had a great hunger and thirst for justice ; 
yet they walked in the fear of the Lord with such care, 
not to lose His grace ; yet they would rather suffer all 
than fall into disfavor with God by a single sin. How 
must they confound us on the day of judgment, since we 
have received far greater gifts and graces from God and 
yet remain so cold and indifferent, aye, even return the 
deepest ingratitude for His goodness ! How shall we 
tremble, when before the judgment-seat of God we 
face them and the angels, who have been less honored than 
we ! How shall we be able to answer, or what excuse 
shall we bring ? Let us remember in time, that we are 
more indebted to God than the angels, and let us endeavor 
to preserve grace as faithfully, at least, as they, and to reap 
abundant fruit from the talent committed to us. 


How the Saints of the New Law valued Grace, and 
how much they did for its sake. 


1ET us finally consider how much the saints of the 
New Law appreciated grace. For the defence and 
preservation of grace the saints have spared nei 
ther honor, nor riches, neither their members nor their life ; 
and when they had given and sacrificed all, they were con 
vinced of having made a great profit by the loss of all 
earthly and natural goods, and that even at such an enor 
mous price they had received grace gratuitously. They 
thought of the words of Christ, who directs us to pluck 
out the eye, to cut off hand and foot, to bear our cross and 
give up even our life, if necessary, to preserve us from the 
loss of grace and of the kingdom of Heaven. 

Following this direction of our Saviour, the holy mar 
tyr Quirinus suffered his hands and feet to be cut off, St. 
Serapion permitted his whole body to be cut to pieces, St. 
Nicephorus allowed himself to be burned upon a roast- 
ing-iron, and afterwards his entire body to be lacerated and 
torn. But why do I dwell on these individual examples, 
when countless martyrs have endured these and more terri 
ble tortures, and for the sake of grace would have been ready 
to endure even more cruelty and pain than the rage of hell 
and of wicked men could possibly devise ? 

Other saints did not wait for a hostile hand to inflict 
these sufferings. In order to escape or lessen the danger 
of losing grace, they voluntarily became their own tyrants 
and tormentors, and considered themselves happy to pur 
chase the preservation of grace by means of the greatest 

342 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

pains and sufferings. The blessed John of Bono stuck 
sharp splinters under the nails of his fingers. The blessed 
Martinian built a slow fire of brushwood, and not only once 
but often burnt his limbs at it, asking himself how irsig- 
nificant was this pain in comparison to the eternal fire of 
hell, which he would deserve by the loss of grace. St. 
Francis rolled his bare body upon live coals, sometimes in 
the cold snow, sometimes upon a heap of thorns. And all 
these tortures appeared easy and trifling to the saints, if they 
could thereby avoid only one sin. They were not stones, 
so as to be insensible to pleasure or pain ; but the sense of the 
heavenly sweetness of grace and the desire for its beauty 
outweighed the pain of the body and gave them the won 
derful courage which we can only behold with mute ad 
miration. They would rather destroy the frail vessel of 
their body than lose the precious treasure of grace. 

Others again, who had at their disposal all the joys, 
honors, and riches of the world, preferred to desert all these 
and live until death in suffering, poverty, and contempt, 
than to expose themselves to the many dangers that surround 
the preservation of grace in the world. Thousands and 
millions have done this, and a countless number do it every 
day before our eyes. The world wonders and mocks at so 
extraordinary a step ; but they who take the step, well 
know their benefit. By a lively faith they have recognized 
the infinite preciousness of grace and the vanity of the 
world ; they have weighed both and found the latter want 
ing. They sought and found the heavenly peace, which 
their heart desired, in the grace of God, and therefore they 
are so jealous of it that they will let no other good, no 
other pleasure rob them of its possession or disturb them 
in its enjoyment. 

Oh, how must these sublime examples confuse us, who 
do so little to preserve grace, who shun the least sacrifice 
to ward off a danger of sin, or to remain faithful to the 
commandments of our heavenly Father ; who find every 
little suffering too great to take upon us for the sake of 

How the Saints Valued Grace. 343 

grace ! Let ns sacrifice our body, our honor, our life, let 
us sacrifice everything, without exception, before we ex 
pose ourselves to the danger of losing grace ! 

2. But the example of the saints must shame us still more, 
if we see the many and great labors and sufferings which 
they endured, not only to preserve grace in themselves and to 
escape the anger of God with its terrible consequences, but 
even to increase the grace acquired and secured, and to 
impart it to others. 

St. Bridget asked of God, as a great favor, the disfigure 
ment of her countenance, that she might more easily re 
main a virgin and in this state lead a holier life than in 
the state of matrimony. The same saint had obtained the 
restoration of sight for a pious nun ; afterwards, when the 
nun had progressed in virtue, St. Bridget obtained her 
relapse into blindness, that she might thus be less disturbed 
in the work of increasing her merits and of growing in the 
grace of God. St. Mandet, son of a king of Ireland, asked 
and obtained as a favor from God the visitation of a terrible 
disease, which disfigured his whole body and spread a pes 
tilential smell about him ; and all this for no other purpose 
but that he might not be compelled to marry, and by vir 
ginity might preserve the flower of grace purer and 
brighter. When once St. Sabas, arriving in a monastery, 
picked an apple from a tree to refresh himself, he im 
mediately threw it upon the floor and trampled it under 
foot, filled with anger because he had almost broken his 
strict abstinence and thus lost an occasion of merit, and 
for penance he forever denied himself the taste of apples. 

What shall I say of all the acts of virtue, the humiliations, 
privations, and mortifications which the Fathers of the 
desert and so many holy religious have practised constantly 
for many years, in order to acquire daily greater merits, to 
become more pleasing to God and to grow in grace ? Never 
did human ambition or human avarice seek the goods 
of this world with such zeal and perseverance as the 
saints have sought the increase and improvement of the 

344 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace given them. The ardent desire for it left them no rest 
by day or by night ; they were burning with a thirst that 
could never be entirely satisfied by the heavenly dew of 
grace. They let no moment pass by without raising their 
thirsting heart to the fountain of grace, without opening 
their mouths and begging God to fill them with His grace. 
They spent the day in labor for the glory of God and the 
welfare of their fellow-men, to gather ever greater merits, 
and the night they devoted mostly to prayer, which should 
always draw down upon them new grace. 

But is it to be wondered at, if the saints sought grace so 
zealously for themselves, when they were no less solicitous 
and earnest to procure it also for others ? Behold the apostles 
and the other missionaries, who leave their family and their 
country to proclaim the blessings of grace to the most 
savage and cruel nations, to spread its light in the remotest 
places of the earth, and to do all this under countless 
troubles and difficulties. See how ready and happy they are 
to seal the truth of their glad tidings with their blood, 
and to shed this blood to the last drop in imitation of 
their Saviour, that it may become a fruitful seed of 
grace and salvation for their executioners. Many saints 
gladly gave their lives to deliver one sinner from the state of 
sin. Others prayed whole nights and scourged themselves, 
to obtain for sinners the grace of conversion ; they found 
no labor and no sacrifice too great, when there was a ques 
tion of leading a stray sheep back into the bosom of grace. 

Great God ! how can we remain idle in the presence of 
such examples and esteem as little that which the saints 
who were enlightened by Heaven s light valued so highly ! 
Indeed, we can never answer for it, if in the face of such 
sublime models we are still so indolent in gathering heaven 
ly treasures for eternity, or if we not only neglect to co 
operate in the sanctification of others, but even revolt 
against our pastors, who announce to us the glad tidings 
of grace, and if we will not be roused by them from the 
stupor of carnal desires and worldly lust. 

How the Saints Valued Grace. 345 

3. The sublime enthusiasm of the saints for grace sprang 
from a deep consideration and thorough knowledge of its 
inestimable value. Hence they could not find sufficient 
words to express that sublime image as their mind beheld 
it, and to inflame all Christians with its love. Divine 
grace/ they exclaimed, "thou lovely garden, thou instruc 
tress in life ! Thou protectress, thou companion, sister, 
and mother ! Thou shining light, thou pure and pleasant 
balsam, thou impregnable fortress ! Thou tree of life, thou 
burning fire, thou brilliant torch, thou radiant sun ! Thou 
stream of heavenly blessing, thou river of Paradise, thou 
beautiful rainbow ! Thou precious wine from the table of 
God, thou milk of the children of God, thou unctuous oil 
and refreshing salt of our soul, thou mother of all that is 
good ! " With these and many other beautiful names the 
holy Fathers celebrated the greatness of grace, in order to re 
veal to us its inexhaustible wealth, to impress us with its 
excellence, and to exhort us profoundly to esteem and dili 
gently to preserve it. 

Let us hear, for the others, the inspired exhortations of 
St. Ephrem, which he has transmitted in a sermon on 
grace, and let us impress them so deeply upon our heart, 
that we may never again forget them. 

" Take care," says the saint, "that thy spirit always has 
possession of grace, lest thou be deceived. Honor grace as 
thy guardian, lest, being offended by thee, it abandon thee. 
Attend to grace as to thy invisible teacher, lest thou wander 
about in darkness after it has deserted thee. Without it 
begin no struggle, lest thou be ignominiously vanquished. 
Without its companionship do not enter upon the path of 
virtue, since the roaring lion lies in wait for thee. Without 
its counsel undertake nothing with regard to thy spiritual 
welfare, for there are many whose heart is deceived by 
the appearance of good. 

" Render a willing obedience to grace, and thou wilt be 
enlightened above all things. Thou wilt be made a child 
of the Most High, if thou wilt adopt grace as thy sister ; 

346 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

as a mother, grace will offer tliee her breasts and protect 
thee as a child against thy persecutors ; confide thyself to 
the love and indulgence of grace, this queen of all creatures. 
"Thou hast not yet seen the love which grace bears thee. 
But neither do infants yet recognize the care which their 
mother has for them. Be patient and submit to the direc 
tion of grace, and thou wilt receive the fruit and blessings 
of grace. Neither do infants know how they are nourished, 
but when they are grown into manhood, they admire in 
themselves the power of nature. So wilt thou arrive at 
perfection, if thou perseverest in Divine grace." 

The Acquisition, Exercise, Increase, 
and Preservation of Grace. 

The Acquisition of Grace. 


I,Y dear Christian ! If in the preceding books 
your attentive consideration has convinced you 
of the glories and the inestimable value of grace, 
you will now esteem it as it deserves to be esteemed ; you 
will certainly desire nothing more ardently now than to 
know how you may acquire, increase, and preserve it, and 
how you may and ought to regulate your life in accordance 
with it. This will be our subject in this last book. 

The first question is, how shall we acquire grace ? We 
cannot acquire it by our own virtue, by our own merit. 
"If~by grace" says the Apostle/ it is not now ~by works ; 
otherwise grace is no more grace." For " to him that 
worketh, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, hut 
according to debt."* Grace signifies a free, unmerited love 
and favor, and a gratuitous, unmerited gift of love. But 
especially is the grace of God, of which we speak, so sub 
lime, heavenly, and Divine a gift, that even the purest and 
most sublime creature cannot in the least merit it by its 
own power and its own virtue. The Incarnate Son of God 

i Rom. xi. 6. Ibid. lv. 4. 

348 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

alone, who possesses grace by nature and in infinite meas 
ure., could strictly merit grace for us. 

Much less can we of our own power produce grace in us. 
As little as we can produce ourselves out of nothing and 
give to ourselves natural existence, so little are we able to 
give ourselves supernatural existence. For grace does not 
grow up out of our natural power as the plant out of the 
root, but it is added to our nature from without, it is en 
grafted upon nature from above, as the scion upon the 
wilding. God, who has created our nature, must by 
His wonderful power create it, as it were, anew, or rather 
must regenerate us by His Spirit to make us His children. 

2. But what then remains for us to do in the acquisition of 
grace ? Very much still remains. Though we cannot 
merit grace and produce it of ourselves, we are neverthe 
less capable of disposing ourselves for it and of qualify 
ing ourselves for its reception. We can and must seek it 
with God, we must remove the obstacles that are in its 
way, and must so dispose our will, that grace finds access 
into us, and though we be not worthy, yet at least we 
should not be altogether unworthy of it. We can and 
must adopt such a holy and godly disposition as becomes 
the high state which we are to enter by grace. In a word, 
we can and must, 011 our part, strive after grace and ad 
vance to meet it ; then God will, according to His prom 
ise, come to us with it. 

Yet neither can we do all this of our own power. It 
is a heresy, frequently and emphatically condemned by 
the Church, that man by the power of his nature can even 
effectually desire grace or prepare himself for it, much 
less merit it. For as grace is so infinitely above our na 
ture, our nature would be obliged, at every step towards 
grace, to raise itself above itself and to exceed its natural 
sphere of activity. Yet this it can do as little as it can 
by its own power elevate itself into the state of grace, just 
as a stone is not only unable to give itself life, but even to 
produce in itself the first beginning of life. 

Th e A eg 21 is ition of Grace . 349 

Nothing, therefore, remains, but that the same Spirit of 
God, who infuses sanctifying grace in us, should advance 
us towards it by His actual graces, or rather draw and 
bear us up towards it. The Son of God has Himself said : 1 
"No man can come to me," L e. } to the union with Him by 
grace, " except the Father draw him." Yea, the Apostle 
teaches, 2 that of ourselves we cannot, even in a salutary 
and effectual manner, think of that which relates to grace : 
"We are not sufficient to tliink any thing of ourselves, as of 
ourselves : but our sufficiency is from God." 

Iron, which by nature is not incandescent, cannot, of 
its own power, become incandescent, and therefore cannot 
acquire that degree of heat which prepares it for this in 
candescence. As then the fire makes the iron glow with 
heat, so God by grace makes the created spirit Divine. 
Consequently He alone, too, can prepare the entrance into 
that supernatural condition by other supernatural gifts of 
grace. The light of day and the dawn which precedes it 
are of the same kind and must spring from the same 
source. If, then, by grace the daylight of Divine justice 
and holiness is to shine in our soul, and the preparation for 
justification be nothing else than the dawn of that day, 
that preparation must be a ray of the same light and 
an emanation from the same Divine Sun which imparts 
justification to us. 

Indeed, we must, in preparation for justification, practise 
the same virtues and possess the same holy sentiments as 
after justification, only in a relatively different and less per 
fect manner. We must supernaturally believe in God, hope 
in Him, love Him, or, at least, earnestly desire this love of 
Him and the observance of His supernatural law. This, 
however, is impossible, unless God prevents us, by a special 
grace, unless He supernaturally arouses, impels, and attracts 
us, or even infuses some supernatural virtues before sancti 
fying grace. In reality, these supernatural virtues have 
their root in grace and are infused only with it, even in the 

1 John vi. 44. * II. Cor. iii. 5. 

350 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

case of infants. But as light and warmth have indeed 
their source in the heat of the fire, and nevertheless may, 
in the object to be heated, precede the fire, so may God 
infuse the supernatural virtues, which form, as it were, the 
light and warmth of the glow of grace, at least in an im 
perfect form before justification, in order thus to introduce 
us gradually and partially to sanctifying grace. 

The preparation to sanctifying grace is then, in a certain 
manner, its beginning and an anticipation of its effects. 
It is the first aspiration of the Holy Ghost, by which He 
does not yet dwell in us, but already moves us and acts in 
us in a supernatural manner. It is His first gentle breeze, 
by which He lets us perceive His gracious nearness, an 
nounces His coming, and invites us to open the door of our 
heart to Him and to seize the proffered grace. It is a 
supernatural magnetism, by which our soul is drawn to 
wards God as towards its supernatural good, although it 
does not yet draw Him clown to itself and does not yet re 
ceive Him in sanctifying grace. 

Our share, then, in this preparation for justification can 
only consist in this : we must faithfully co-operate with the 
actual graces, that are given us as the messengers and the 
beginning of sanctifying grace. We must open our eyes to 
the light that dawns upon our soul, open our heart to the 
mysterious, magnetic attraction that seizes it. With our 
free will, which is elevated and strengthened by God s 
preventing grace, we must readily adopt the holy senti 
ments that God inspires in us, and that are indispensable 
for the reception of sanctifying grace. 

3. May we now say, that by co-operating with the pre 
venting graces we really, in the strict sense of the term, 
merit sanctifying grace ? Far from it ! This also were a 
vain error. For by this co-operation we are not prepared 
to receive a merit, but a grace, and this grace we do not re 
ceive because we merit it, but because God grants it out 
of gratuitous love. 

Would vou maintain that he merited your gift, to 

The Acquisition of Grace. 351 

whom you had offered it from mere charity, simply because, 
at your solicitation and with your assistance, he had stretched 
out his hands to receive it ? Would you not rather con 
sider him indebted to you, because you had not only of 
fered him the gift, but had assisted him to accept it ? and if 
a king promised his subject adoption as his son, provided 
the subject donned the royal robes presented to him and 
conducted himself suitably to the promised dignity, would 
he, by fulfilling these conditions, merit the adoption unto 
the sonship of the king ? By no means. 

The same applies to the sanctifying grace of God. God 
had intended it for us on account of the merits of His Son, 
whilst we not only were not worthy of it, but by sin were 
in a state of positive and entire unworthiness. Even after 
grace was held out to us, we could not stretch out our hand 
towards it to receive it, much less adopt the holy senti 
ments worthy of a child of God. Even if we had been 
capable of this, grace would always have been a free gift of 
God, which He would give us only on account of His mer 
ciful promise. But now, when God instils in us the first 
desire for grace, when He not only places it before us, but" 
leads us to it, can we then boast of any merit, and must 
we not rather be doubly grateful for this twofold love of 

True, when we faithfully co-operate with the preventing 
grace of God, He then cannot withhold it from us. But 
whence this necessity ? Not from our co-operation, but be 
cause God will remain true to Himself and will perfect the 
work that He has begun ; because, when He once has drawn 
us towards grace, He cannot suffer the incipient action to 
remain idle and fruitless, and must carry it out to its final 

If, then, we will acquire sanctifying grace, we must, above 
all, follow the preventing grace of God. This grace is 
given to all men ; it is present to us when we do not seek 
it, often against our will, it knocks at the door of our heart, 
to have it opened to the Holy Spirit. This is the myster- 

35- The Glories of Divine Grace. 

ious ladder that leads us from the lowliness of our nature 
and from the abyss of sin to the throne of the children of 
God. We can, however, scale it from the first round to the 
last only when enlightened by the light of God and borne 
aloft by His power. With God s help only can we acquire 
those supernatural dispositions for grace, which according to 
the Holy Council of Trent consist in faith, fear, hope, char 
ity, and contrition. We will treat of each of these dis 
positions individually. 


Supernatural Faith as the First Preparation for the 
Reception of Grace. 


|B have spoken in the third book already of super 
natural faith, as well as of supernatural hope and 
charity, but only in as far as these virtues, in their 
intrinsic glory and sublimity, form the most beautiful royal 
retinue of sanctifying grace. As remarked above, however, 
the unjustified must prepare himself for the reception of 
grace by the same virtues and acts which the just must 
practise and perform. The justified is to merit by the 
practice of those virtues the inheritance of the children of 
God in Heaven; the unjustified must, by the practice of the 
same virtues, first acquire the grace of sonship, and in this 
particular relation we must here consider them. 

The first condition for the reception of grace, which is, at 
the same time, the beginning, the foundation, and the root 
of all other conditions, and therefore, too, as the Coun 
cil of Trent says, 1 the root of justification itself, is 
supernatural faith. Faith is the first step on the way 
of grace, without which we can take no other ; it is the 
corner-stone, upon which all other salutary acts must be 
built up ; it is the strong and living root, from which every 
thing else that is required for grace springs up and receives 
life and strength. In a word : Faith is the first and most 
essential preparation for grace, because it alone lets us seek 
and find grace. 

2. For if we will acquire grace, we must first recognize 
its glory and inestimable value, in order to desire and seek 

1 Sess vi, De justif., cap. 8. 

354 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

it, and then we must know where we are to seek it, in order 
then actually to find it there. 

In the first place, now, we can know only by supernatur 
al Divine faith what grace is and how glorious and precious 
it is. Our natural reason gives us not the faintest idea of 
its Divine greatness and glory. Our reason only represents 
earthly and perishable gifts to us, or at the highest, only 
the small reward that we may expect as faithful servants of 
God. How could it lead us on the way to the heavenly gifts 
of grace ? If we follow it alone, our heart will never ex 
perience a heavenly desire, no thought of a supernatural 
elevation to the bosom of God will be awakened in our soul, 
we will remain in humble narrowness and lowliness, and 
will imagine the little we possess to be something grand and 

But if faith, like a heavenly morning-star, lights up this 
earthly night, if by faith God reveals in us the mysteries 
of His grace and in our soul draws the image of its splen 
dor, then an unspeakable desire is aroused in our soul, an 
intense longing bears us up to the grandeurs of a supernat 
ural world, we awaken as if from a dream, and enraptured 
by the glories of grace we hasten to acquire it as soon as 

How great, then, ought to be our endeavor to preserve and 
confirm this supernatural faith in us, lest we entirely cut off 
for ourselves all access to the highest possible good ; and 
how joyfully should we embrace it, instead of being cold 
and indifferent about it ! 

We are so ready to believe everything that may in any 
way bring us honor or happiness ; we believe it even when 
we have scarcely the slightest rational ground for this be 
lief, or if we have every evidence that the contrary is true. 
Every one readily believes to be true what he wishes to be 
true, or what flatters his vanity or self-love, and gladly per 
mits the humblest and meanest man to predicate virtues 
of him which he does not possess, or to promise him some 
thing which the promiser can and will not fulfil. 

Faith the F irst Preparation for Grace. 355 

Why, then, should not we accept with open arms and be 
lieving heart that which is told us of the high honor and 
the superhuman happiness to be imparted to us by grace, 
even when no indubitable and infallible authority confirms 
it ? For what can reasonably flatter our ambition more, than 
that we are to be made true children of God and kings of 
Heaven and earth ? What can more excite our self-love 
than that we should obtain the happiness that exists in 
Heaven or on earth, a happiness that hath never yet en 
tered a human heart ? Our ambition and our vanity should 
determine us readily and gladly to believe it, even with 
the risk that it might be so and perhaps is so. 

But now we have in evidence the infallible authority of 
God, which can neither deceive nor be deceived. He re 
veals to us clearly the glories of grace and promises dis 
tinctly to communicate it to us ; and His own greatness 
and omnipotence is our surety that He can and will cer 
tainly realize His promises, be they ever so great and ex 
cellent. We, therefore, know infallibly that our faith in 
the glories of grace is no vain and unsupported faith, but 
that, on the contrary, it enjoys the highest possible cer 
tainty and reliability. What, then, can hinder us from em 
bracing with the most sincere and lively faith the great 
and precious promises of grace which God has made us ? 

Our faith in the word of God should rather be the more 
sincere and willing, the more we desire the gifts it prom 
ises, and the more we long after happiness and honor. 
The more secure and reliable the word of God is the great 
er should be our reverence and our desire for its promises. 
For faith in the word of God is, as the Apostle says, not a 
mere idea, but " tlie substance," i. e., as it were a real ap 
prehension, " of tilings to be hoped for, the evidence of tilings 
that appear not," because we apprehend them in God more 
certainly and firmly than if we saw them with our eyes or 
seized them with our hands. 

This we see in the faith of the saints. St. Teresa could 

1 Ueb. xi. 1 . 

356 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

say that she did not envy those saints who beheld our Sav 
iour with their bodily eyes,, because she beheld Him as viv 
idly in the Blessed Sacrament with the eyes of faith. St. 
Jerome relates of himself that he was so much affected by 
the belief in the final judgment, that he every where thought 
to hear the terrible sound of the trumpet which calls men 
to the judgment-seat on the day of doom. The Blessed 
Giles,, one of the first disciples of St. Francis of Assisi, was 
wont to say,, it seemed to him that his faith was rather 
vision than faith. 

Oh, what an impression would faith make upon us, if it 
were as strong and lively in us as it was in the saints ! How 
would it induce us to seek and desire the gifts and glories 
of grace more even than if we beheld it with our eyes ! If 
this is not so, it is caused by our own fault. The Holy 
Ghost denies to no one His illuminating assistance ; on the 
contrary, He always appeals to our heart to receive in us 
with supernatural power the word of God. But we give 
Him no hearing ; we refuse to co-operate with Him. We 
suffer the grace of faith to remain dormant in our soul, as 
the fire in the flint, and do not permit it to act in us, or its 
light to illumine us. We make no use of this powerful 
weapon, more effectual and penetrating than a two-edged 
sword, but keep it idle in the scabbard. We neglect to 
make frequent and lively acts of faith, to consider the ar 
guments which might enliven it in us, to represent its 
mysteries daily to our mind and become familiar with 
them. No wonder, then, that we are not roused from our 
sleep of sin ; that we in the midst of our misery abandon 
ourselves to quiet indolence, that we do not with longing 
desire contend for the paradise of grace, that we remain 
fixed to the earth and cannot approach nearer to God ! 

Alas, let us be aroused from our sleep, let us open the 
eyes of our soul to the light of faith and look up to the 
mountains of God, where His love waits for us to make us 
happy. If we have not sufficient courage and strength to 
acquire grace immediately, let us at least keep burning the 

Faith the First Preparation for Grace. 357 

light of faith, which continues alive as embers under the 
ashes of sin. Let us endeavor ever more to revive this 
coal, that it may gradually again warm our heart and re 
suscitate it to a new life. 

3. Faith alone lets us seek grace, it alone, too, lets us find 
it, and that for this reason that it alone can lead us to 
seek it. For God gives His precious grace to no one who 
does not appreciate and desire it. If, then, without faith we 
cannot appreciate grace, because we do not know it, it is evi 
dent that without it we cannot find it. On the contrary, 
the more we revere and esteem it, the more will God be in 
clined to give it to us, because then He will be appropriate 
ly honored and glorified in His gift. 

Faith, again, lets us find grace, because it alone leads us 
to the fountain of grace. As little as we are able to recog 
nize the greatness and splendor of grace by our natural 
reason, so little can we learn from it whence to expect 
grace. As we learn to know grace only by faith, so we 
know by it alone from whom and in what manner we shall 
receive it. We understand that by our nature we can 
neither acquire nor merit grace ; but we cannot see how 
God can be so powerful and merciful as to give it to us, not 
withstanding our incapacity and total lack of merit. For 
by our reason we can estimate the efficacy of God s power 
and goodness only in as far as we behold its effects in na 
ture, and as we know that nature requires it. At any rate, 
we cannot certainly know, from reason alone, that God 
will actually reveal His infinite power and goodness by so 
great and wonderful a miracle. Only the revelation of God 
and supernatural faith can assure us of this. " By faith 
we understand," says the Apostle, l " that from invisible 
things visible things might le made." That means, by our 
reason we know that which is already actual or visible ; 
by faith we know how God also produces that which is not 
yet real and visible, and which does not yet exist, even in its 
root or germ. By faith we know how God founds grace 

1 Heb. xi. 3. 

358 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

as a new creation upon the soil of our nature by a very 
great wonder of His omnipotence and charity. We know 
by faith how He substitutes His infinite power for our in 
ability, His inestimable love and the infinite merits of 
Christ for our want of merit. 

Xothing, however, is more natural than that God, who 
by His omnipotence and charity gives us grace for the 
sake of Christ, should also require us to acknowledge Him 
and Christ as the source and author of grace, and that He 
should give it to us only when we make this confession of 
faith. The communication of grace to us is the greatest 
miracle on the part of God, and miracles we obtain from 
God only by a firm faith in His wonderful power and love. 

As the Divine Saviour required faith in His Divine 
power and charity of all those who begged the restoration 
of life to the dead or the miraculous healing from disease ; 
as He wrought the miracle only on account of this faith ; 
so He still more requires this faith of those who wish to 
obtain the eternal life of grace. " TJtis is the will of my 
Father . . . that everyone who seeth the Son and lelieveth in 
Him, may have everlasting life ; and I will raise him up 
in the last day." The Apostle teaches, likewise, that to 
be raised up from the death of sin to the life of grace, we 
must believe in the omnipotence of God in a similar man 
ner as we confess it in the resurrection of our Lord. 
Abraham believed in God as the One " ivho quicfceneth the 
dead, and calleth those things that are not, as those that are. 
Abraham against hope ( hope of nature) believed in hope 
(hope in God), that he might ~be made the Father of many 
nations ; . ... he was not ivealc in faith, neither did he 
consider his own body now dead, .... nor the dead luomb of 
Sara; . ... he staggered not by distrust in the promise of 
God, but ivas strengthened in faith, giving glory to God ; 
most fully Jcnoiuing that whatsoever He hath promised, He 
is able also to perform. 7 2 In like manner must we indeed 
acknowledge the barrenness of our nature for the heavenly 

3 John vi. 40. * Rom. iv. 17-21. 

Faith the First Preparation for Grace. 359 

life of grace, but on that very account look up with a firm 
faith to the power and goodness of God, who can give us 
this heavenly life, and according to His promise will give 

Just then, when our natural power and merit complete 
ly desert us, we can and ought by faith to draw down up- 
on us the power of God and appropriate to ourselves the 
merits of Christ. For by this faith we give God the glory 
due Him, and the highest glory that we are able to give 
Him, when we confess Him to be the only source of all, 
but specially of the highest and best gifts. Now God 
Himself says : " Whosoever shall glorify Me, him will 1 
glorify." God, then, will give the glory of His grace only 
to him who by a lively faith acknowledges Him as the 
omnipotent and merciful Author of grace, and He will give 
it the more readily the firmer and more lively the faith is 
by which we do Him honor. 

4. It is not surprising, then, that in Holy Writ the ac 
quisition of grace and justification is so often and so 
emphatically attributed to faith, that it would almost seem 
as if nothing else but faith were required. Yet nothing is 
more foolish than the error of Protestants, who consider 
faith the only preparation for justification. If justification 
consisted in nothing else but the mere imputation of the 
merits of Christ, if it consisted only in a mere external jus 
tice, by which the interior wickedness and sinfulness of our 
soul were only concealed, then indeed the faith in Christ 
might alone be sufficient. But now, according to the doc 
trine of the Apostle, justifying faith is faith in miracles, a 
faith in the sublimest of all miracles, the miracle of grace. 
In this miracle God, by the sanctity of the Holy Spirit, de 
stroys all wickedness of sin in us, and revives our soul from 
its spiritual death to a supernatural life. This faith, then, 
must be accompanied by other dispositions, which qualify 
us for the reception of that wonderful gift. 

These other dispositions are to some extent already en- 

1 I. Kings ii. 30. 

360 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

closed in faith, spring up from faith, and only by faith 
have an efficacious influence upon the acquisition of grace. 
For by faith we obtain from God also those graces which 
are necessary for a salutary fear, for hope, and for contri 
tion for our sins. By faith we are furthermore impelled to 
seek grace, to fear the anger of God, to hope in God, to 
hate sin and love justice. By faith, finally, we hallow all 
the other dispositions, draw down the blessing of God 
upon them, and bring them into connection with sanctify 
ing grace. For since we cannot merit grace by these dis 
positions, we must in the end expect it only from the 
power and goodness of God through the merits of Christ. 
And thus, as faith precedes the other dispositions, so must 
it follow them, and, as it were, impress its seal upon them 
to make them acceptable to God. 

All other preparations make us only capable of receiving 
grace ; by faith alone we draw it from its source. By the 
former, we approach to grace, by faith we seize it, by it we 
appropriate the treasures of the infinite power and love of 
God and the merits of Christ. By faith we are justified 
even when we receive grace in the sacraments. For the 
sacraments are efficacious only when the receiver in faith 
acknowledges their efficacy. They are only the channels 
by which grace flows to us from God and Christ, and thus 
they must act under the same conditions under which 
Christ wrought His miracles. 

Is it not perfectly true, then, that by supernatural faith 
we find grace, as well as that we can seek it only by faith ? 
As this faith exhibits to us the glories of grace, does it not 
in like manner procure for us access to it, as the Apostle 
says : 1 "We have access through faith into this grace where 
in we stand, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons 
of God." 

When will you, my dear Christian, earnestly take to 
heart this important truth and regulate your life according 
to it ? When will you renounce that pharisaical insolence 

1 Rom. v. 2. 

Faith the First Preparation for Grace. 361 

with which the world deceitfully tells you that you may 
with some miserable human works purchase the grace of 
God ? "Without faith it is impossible to please God ; he that 
cometh to God must believe," says the Apostle. 1 He re 
bukes nothing more severely in his letters than the arro 
gance of the Jews, who by their works of the law imagined 
themselves to be deserving of the grace of Christ. Even 
of Abraham he says : 2 "If A braham were justified by works 
lie hath glory, but not before God." How much more would 
he condemn the works of a hypocritical, superficial, human 
justice, and deny it all value in the eyes of God ! 

As only those works which are performed in the state 
and in the spirit of grace merit eternal life, so only those 
works can lead us to grace which spring from faith and 
are hallowed by it. These works do not indeed merit grace, 
but they manifest the power and the liveliness of faith, by 
which we seek grace with God and expect it from His 
goodness, in virtue of the merits of Christ. 

Glory, then, in these works alone, dear Christian ; or 
rather glory in the root of these works, in an humble, and, 
therefore, magnanimous and powerful submission of faith, 
by which you glory, not in yourself, but in God. Sink 
this supernatural root deep into your soul, that it may 
grow into you. The deeper it is founded in you, the more 
strongly will it develop, and the more speedily will the tree 
of grace, with its abundant heavenly blossoms and fruit, 
grow up from it. 

1 Feb. xi.6. 2 Rom. iv. 2. 


The Fear of God as the Second Preparation 
for the Reception of Grace. 


i|F the light of faith, which exhibits the glories and 
sweetness of grace, is not actually sufficient to 
soften and inflame the heart of the sinner, it 
must certainly deeply terrify him by pointing out the fear 
ful evils and punishments that await him in case he is and 
remains without grace. 

The ordinary way in which the sinner recovers grace, is 
that of the fear of God, of the fear of God s anger and its 
terrible consequences. Xo other fear has any relation or 
connection with grace, and therefore cannot induce us to 
seek and to acquire it. Every other fear is but a natural 
fear, which we may possess without faith and without the 
grace of the Holy Ghost, and which consequently cannot 
introduce us into the kingdom of grace, be it ever so 

The fear of the anger of God and its consequences, how 
ever, is a supernatural fear. It presupposes in us a su 
pernatural faith in the Divine order of grace, and it can 
only be elicited when the Holy Ghost supernaturally draws 
us towards grace and inspires us with a lively sense of the 
greatness of the loss of grace and the terrible revenge of 
God for contempt of it. This fear is, according to the 
Holy Council of Trent, a gift of the Holy Ghost, a pre 
cious and mighty gift, which like a powerful sword pene 
trates our interior with holy violence, severs all the ties 
which bind us to the object of our sinful affection, and 
constantly hangs over our head, until we have taken refuge 

Second Preparation : The Fear of God. 363 

under the cloak of grace, and concealed ourselves in the 
bosom of God. If we do not perceive in us the powerful 
effects of this gift of the Holy Ghost ; if we continue to 
live in sin, blinded and hardened, and take no notice of 
grace, it is because we do not hearken to the exhortations 
of the Holy Ghost, and do not with lively faith contem 
plate the terrible judgment which God will pronounce 
upon the despisers of His grace. 

2. Too true, alas, are the words that God addresses to the 
sinner : "God is mighty to pour out indignation according 
as His mercy is." 1 As sublime, liberal, and incomprehensi 
ble as is His mercy to make us His children by grace, so 
terrible and incomprehensible must be the severity of His 
justice, which He vents upon him who scorns His grace. 
By grace God pours out upon us the Avhole plenitude of 
His blessings as an abundant rain. He melts, so to speak, 
with love for us, and with desire to be united to us ; He 
promises to overwhelm us with the stream of His delight. 
But Holy Writ tells us also, that God rains down His war 
upon the wicked, 2 and that He will accomplish His indigna 
tion upon them. 3 Nothing is more painful than despised 
and offended love ; the greater, the more tender and sweet 
the love was, the more powerful, bitter, and terrible is the 
anger into which it is changed by contempt and rejection. 
Therefore, Holy Writ goes so far as to say : 4 "As the 
Lord rejoiced upon you before, doing good to you and mul 
tiplying you ; so fie shall rejoice, destroying and bringing 
you to naught." 

God is a pure fire of infinite power and strength, in like 
measure a fire of love and of anger. As beneficent and 
agreeable as is this powerful fire, when in grace it lovingly 
penetrates, warms, transforms, and glorifies us, so cruel 
and terrible must it be when it pierces, consumes, agitates, 
and tortures those who were hardened, against its mild 

As the sin of a child against its father is incomparably 

1 Ecclus. xvi. 12, 13. - Job xx. C3. " Ezech. vi. 12. Deut. xxviii. 63. 

364 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

more detestable and deserves a far greater punishment 
than the sin of a servant against his master, so is the sin 
we commit as the chosen children of God against our 
heavenly Father incomparably greater and more punish 
able, than that which we would commit as mere servants 
of God. We must not believe, then, that we need fear only 
those punishments which are threatened in general for 
any offence against God, though even these are certainly 
great enough to make every reflecting person tremble 
with fear. No, after we have been called to grace, we have 
something very different to expect, of which we have as 
little an idea as we have of the heavenly happiness which 
God has promised us by grace. For us God opens another 
abyss of infinite depth, as immeasurably deep as the dignity 
of His children is inestimably high and sublime. For us 
He builds a new hell, as fearful and terrible as His Heaven 
is delightful and pleasant. For us He invents new suffer 
ings, new tortures, a new consuming fire, as cruel and in 
tolerable as the joys of His Heaven are infinitely sweet and 
happy. And as He expends His whole omnipotence to 
work the greatest of miracles and make us share His nature 
and happiness, so He employs the same omnipotence, in 
order, by an equally great wonder, to overwhelm the sin 
ner with suffering not inventible by man. Or rather, He 
works a twofold miracle in the sinner : the one, when by 
His own power and by other creatures He so humbles and 
tortures the sinner, as would be naturally impossible ; the 
other still more fearful, when supernaturally He does not 
permit the sinner to perish in His torments. For these 
torments are so great, that according to the course of na 
ture they would instantly crush and annihilate the sinner. 
We should scarcely believe that God will punish our 
sins and the contempt of His grace in so terrible a manner, 
had we not witnessed that His only-begotten Son was 
obliged to suffer so much, so infinitely much more than 
man has ever suffered, in order to make atonement for our 
sins and acquire grace again for us. But " if m the green 

Second Preparation : The Fear of God. 365 

wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry ? " 

3. Our reason is too weak to comprehend such a terrible 
punishment, our heart is too wretched to sufficiently ap 
preciate such a mysterious evil and to tremble in its contem 
plation. Let us therefore ask the Holy Ghost, that by the 
supernatural light of faith He may let us cast a glance into 
the abyss of hell, and then by His supernatural grace He may 
excite in us a great and holy fear of hell. May He pierce 
our heart and our marrow with this fear, so that we maybe 
afraid of nothing more than of the anger of God, and 
may hasten to escape its terrible judgment by an in 
stantaneous and determined return to grace. 

We are so afraid of temporal and natural evils that meet 
us on earth, and in order to escape them we are often in 
duced to cast away grace, or to neglect its recovery. How 
much more should we tremble at the eternal and supernatur 
al evils, and precisely for that reason, because we do not see 
and experience them now, and cannot even comprehend 
them ! For this very incomprehensibility is a proof of 
their ineffable and inestimable greatness, and of their inex 
pressible might and power ; it is a proof that all natural 
evils taken together, which here on earth have ever op 
pressed men, cannot attain to the smallest degree of those 

Oh, let us often remember how terrible it is to fall into 
the hands of the living God ; let us, obedient to the coun 
sel of the Holy Ghost, remember our last end, and we shall 
never sin ; but if we have sinned, we will without delay re 
pent of our sin and endeavor to recover grace, which alone 
can save us from God s terrible wrath. 

The fear of the wrath of God suffers no delay ; it leaves 
us not a moment s rest, until we have escaped it. Every 
moment the sword of God s vengeance is suspended over 
our head ; we may die at any moment and then we are for 
ever given up to our Judge. 

Moreover, we do not know whether, even if we live long, 

1 Luke xxiii. 31. 

366 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

we shall afterwards so easily and certainly obtain again the 
grace of Clod. For this depends less upon our free will, 
than upon the supernatural help of God, which is not sub 
ject to our pleasure ; and hence we can make no calcula 
tions whatever about the certainty of our future con version. 
Every moment that we remain in the state of sin, we render 
ourselves more unworthy of grace, for the longer we remain 
so, the more we despise and contemn it. Finally, then, the 
thread of God s mercy, which still held us, must break ; 
finally, God must ever more withdraw His grace from us and 
let us sink deeper and deeper into the mire of sin. Oh, how 
many at present lament too late in hell that they so long 
despised and neglected the abundant graces offered them, 
and that they postponed their conversion to a later day ! 

Oh, let us betimes tremble at the inscrutable judgment 
of Divine Providence ! As it is full of goodness and bless 
ing when we hold ourselves by its hand, so terrible and un 
fathomable is it when we withdraw ourselves and, as it 
were, mock and deride it. 

Let us, then, according to the warning of the Apostle, 
work out our salvation with fear and trembling, whilst yet 
there is time. Let us greatly fear the terrible punishments of 
eternity, fear the inscrutable ways of God, fear our own lev 
ity and unfaithfulness, and let us not hesitate a moment to 
be reconciled to our heavenly Father, and thus in His bosom 
render ourselves secure from temporal and eternal ruin. 


Supernatural Hope in God as the Third Preparation 
for Grace. 


HE fear of God s wrath and of our own weakness 
would crush us and lead us to despair,, were it not 
for the confidence in the infinite goodness and 
power of God, which opens again our way to grace, and 
grants us the certain hope that with His assistance we may 
certainly and infallibly recover it and preserve it until the 

This confidence must likewise be supernatural and be a 
gift of the Holy Ghost, because the gift of grace, which we 
hope to obtain, is itself supernatural. This hope has no 
other support ijian the infinite mercy of God, which alone 
can pardon our sins, and the infinite power of God, which 
alone can so strengthen and elevate us, that we may seize 
and appropriate this highest of all gifts 

It therefore further presupposes us to know and believe, 
by a supernatural and lively faith, that God, even when we 
are sinners, does not cease to call us unto His grace, and 
places at our disposal the whole wealth of His omnipotence, 
to introduce us into it. 

Therefore our hope of recovering grace can only be 
weak and feeble when our faith is wavering or dead, and 
when we look more upon our sins and our own weakness 
. than upon the ineffable love and care of God for us. Let 
us, however, with a lively faith, always keep the latter in 
view, and let us listen to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, 
.who promises us forgiveness of our sins and the return of 
; grace. Then our hope can no longer hesitate, our soul re- 

368 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

covers from its despair, it acquires a confidence that knows 
no fear or trepidation, and it approaches the throne of 
Divine mercy, where it hopes to find forgiveness and grace, 
and infallibly finds it. 

2. God has protested nothing more frequently and em 
phatically in Holy Scripture than that He desires all men 
to be saved and wills not the death of the sinner, but his 
conversion and life. True, God might have been more 
sparing in dispensing His grace, and might have ordained 
that it should be imparted to those only who sought it 
with the greatest zeal, and after obtaining it, did not lose 
it again. But no ; He wished the sim of His grace to rise 
for the just and unjust, the pious and the sinner ; He 
wished all to bask in its light, and to receive its blessings, 
provided only they would open their eyes to this sun. In 
stead of waiting until we seek grace with Him, He offers it 
liberally and gratuitously at every hour ; He Himself 
knocks constantly at the door of our heart and does not 
rest until we open it to Him. 

Therefore the holy Fathers and all theologians unani 
mously teach that God will deny sanctifying grace to no 
one who with the aid of preventing grace does what lies 
in his power. Though sanctifying grace, then, be ever so 
high and sublime, though we be ever so deeply imbedded 
in the mire of sin, we are certain that at every moment we 
are free to again acquire and possess it. AVe are as certain 
of this as we are of the mercy of God s love, of God s fidelity 
to His promises, of God s omnipotence in His works. But 
one thing is necessary on our part, we must have a good 
will and earnestly and sincerely desire to be the recipients 
of God s grace and mercy. All the rest will be done by 
God Himself. God in His love will Himself cover all our 
sins and so strengthen our will, that we may conquer and 
remove all the obstacles of grace. 

Though the justice of God be ever so severe, though our 
sins be as numerous as the grains of sand at the seashore, 
great as the mightiest mountains, infinite mercy stands 

Third Preparation : Hope in God. 369 

beside justice and stays its avenging arm, as soon as we 
will earnestly escape this arm. The mildness and indul 
gence of mercy outweigh the severity and zeal of justice ; 
for " the tender mercies of the Lord are overall His works." l 
God cannot punish us, unless we compel Him, but His for 
giveness and His blessings He offers to us spontaneously, 
and He is deeply grieved if we reject them. He has not 
shed a drop of sweat in order to punish us ; but in order 
to accord us grace, He has offered up his sweat, His blood, 
and His life under the most cruel tortures. In the pun 
ishment of the sinner He has by no means exhausted His 
omnipotence ; but to reconcile the sinner with Himself 
He has expended the whole treasure of His omnipotence, 
and has wrought the greatest of works, an infinite work, 
the Incarnation of His own Son. Though we, therefore, 
have reason to fear His avenging justice, yet we have far 
more reason to trust in His mercy and to hope for the for 
giveness of our sins. 

3. In order to confirm us in this hope, our Saviour has 
proposed to us the touching parable of the prodigal son. 
The sin of this son was very like our own. With base in 
gratitude he had left the house of his father, where he en 
joyed full paternal love; he had taken along his inheritance, 
and in a strange country had squandered it in the meanest 
and most wicked manner. Who should not have expected 
that when afterward returning home in his misery, he 
would have been relentlessly and scornfully rejected by his 
father? This would certainly have been his due. But in 
stead, his father lovingly receives him again, re-adopts him 
as his son, and welcomes him with so much joy as to ex 
cite the jealousy of the elder brother, who had remained 
faithful to him. 

In like manner have we left the house of our heavenly 
Father and wasted in the most ungrateful manner the in 
heritance of grace. We are no longer worthy to appeal- 
before Him, much less to obtain again the squandered in- 

1 Ps. cxliv. 9. 

3/o The Glories of Divine Grace. 

heritance. Nevertheless, we need only acknowledge our 
misery and ingratitude and earnestly again desire the favor 
of our heavenly Father, and He will meet us rejoicingly, will 
receive us again into His house, give us the kiss of peace and 
reconciliation, adopt us again as His children, and restore 
to us the entire lost inheritance. Aye, He receives us with 
such affection, that if His faithful children, the angels 
and the saints, were capable of envy, they must envy our 

What injustice, then, would we do God, if after all these 
proofs of His infinite mercy we should still remain in de 
spair and despondency and would perish in our misery, in 
stead of courageously breaking the fetters of sin and cast 
ing ourselves confidently into His paternal bosom ! How 
may we still fear our enemies, our bad habits, and our 
weakness, when God is ready to humble our enemies by 
His omnipotence, to break the yoke of our vices, and to en 
dow our will with a superhuman strength ? Why are we 
not daring enough to take that one step into the life-boat 
which God holds ready for us ? 

If a king, to save a poor man who had fallen into a deep 
well, let clown strong machines for his assistance and 
promised on his delivery to extend his own hand to him 
and to donate to him the half of his kingdom, how would 
this unhappy man revive with courage, how confidently 
and zealously would he seize the proffered means of safety ! 
God now does the same to you, sinner ! He sends you 
His angels to deliver you from the abyss of sin, He extends 
to you His own hand, not only to save yon, but to seat you 
upon His royal throne. Why do you still hesitate, unhap 
py man, to extend }^our hand to your liberator, that He 
may seize it ? tardy, cowardly, and foolish suicide! God 
desires nothing else of you but to let yourself be saved by 
Him and you deny yourself and Him this trifle! Co-oper 
ate as far as you can and ought with that which God works 
in you. He will assist you as much as you will permit 
Him, and assist you more than it is necessary. He has be- 

Third Preparation : Hope in God. 371 

gun, do you continue and He will complete the work. He 
has called, do you respond and make use of His gifts, that 
you may ever receive additional gifts and obtain grace up 
on grace. 


Contrition as the Fourth and Last Preparation for 



jNE thing still remains for us to do, with the help 
of God, if our hope of recovering grace shall be 
realized. We must sincerely detest sin, which is 
opposed to grace, and must be earnestly resolved to live 
and act according to the laws and directions of grace. 

If we desire the grace of God with a lively faith, we 
must also endeavor to adopt those sentiments which grace re 
quires of us. And which sentiments are these ? First and 
always, we must have the earnest will to fulfil all those 
duties which we take upon ourselves when entering the 
state of grace, i. e.,we must have the firm resolution to 
commit no mortal sin in future, and to live as true children of 
God. This resolution, if it only be sincere and efficacious, 
is a supernatural act, because it is to form in us the begin- 
ing of a supernatural life. We can elicit this act only by 
following the interior impulse of the Holy Ghost, who will 
introduce us into supernatural life, and when we declare our 
selves determined to preserve and cherish this life within us. 
How we are to accomplish this, will be shown in the fol 
lowing chapters. 

But because we are in the state of sin before we enter 
sanctifying grace, because we have grievous sins upon our 
soul, which render us entirely unworthy of the grace of 
God and exclude it from us, we must not only make a 
good resolution for the future, but also seek to undo the 
past, as far as lies in our power. We must be sorry for having 
committed those sins, for having so greatly offended God 

Fourth Preparation: Contrition. 373 

by them ; and if we are truly sorry, we must endeavor to 
render satisfaction to God for these offences, such as He re 
quires of us and we are capable of rendering; in a word, we 
must sincerely repent of our sins and do penance for them. 

2. In order that this contrition may be salutary for us, 
in order that it may pave the way for the grace of God, it 
must also be supernatural. If it were not supernatural, it 
would stand in no proportion to the supernatural state of 
grace for which it must prepare us. But when is this con 
trition supernatural ? When in the light of faith and by 
the influence of the Holy Ghost we detest sin as a super 
natural evil, as an offence against the supernatural law of 
God, by which we incur the loss of grace for ourselves, and 
withdraw from God the love we owe Him. 

It follows from this explanation that contrition may be of 
two kinds : perfect and imperfect. If we repent only 
because sin deprives us of grace, and therefore of our high 
est happiness, because in consequence of this loss we must 
fear the greatest evils and punishments from God, then 
our contrition is imperfect. In such a contrition we con 
sider grace only inasmuch as it is a good for us, and sin 
only inasmuch as it is an evil for us. This contrition does 
not yet contain the pure and perfect disposition of the 
children of God, which consists in the love of Him. 
Nevertheless, even imperfect contrition implies a sincere 
desire for grace and all that accompanies it, consequently, 
also, for the love of God. Therefore, this contrition does 
not yet render us worthy of the immediate infusion of 
grace, but prepares us sufficiently to receive grace in the 
sacrament of penance. 

If, however, we consider how great a good grace is for 
God Himself, how much He is glorified by it, and how we 
by sin offend Him, the highest good, and withdraw from 
Him our dutiful, filial love, then our contrition is perfect. 
This contrition includes filial love of God. Then we have 
no longer a mere desire for the grace of the children of 
God ; we already act as His children, we already embrace 

374 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Him with the arms of love. Then He can no longer hesi 
tate ; He likewise embraces ns with His paternal love., re 
ceives us into His bosom, presses the kiss of reconciliation 
upon our brow, and immediately gives us again the grace 
of His children. 

Imperfect contrition, even, is, therefore, good and praise 
worthy ; it has a wonderful power and ought to be exceed 
ingly dear and precious to us, because it at least qualifies 
us for the reception of grace. But its power cannot be 
compared with that of perfect contrition, which not only 
qualifies us for grace, but immediately introduces us into 
it. We should therefore not be contented with the former, 
and always endeavor to progress unto the latter. Aye, we 
should be ashamed, after losing grace so ignominiously, 
to omit anything that lies in our power, and to do no 
more than extreme necessity requires. For thus Ave 
should prove that we do not, even with regard to our own 
self, esteem grace as it deserves ; and if we are entirely in 
different about perfecting our charity by love, it is evident 
that in reality we are not so earnest about contrition, and 
perhaps do not possess it even in an imperfect degree. 

Oh, if we only recognized, with lively faith, and with the 
assistance of the Holy Ghost, the great evil of sin, which 
deprives us of grace, we should immediately detest it with 
our whole soul and banish it from our heart ! We would 
detest it, because in depriving us of grace it deprives us of 
the highest good and of the possession of God ; because it 
lets us fear the severest and most cruel punishments at the 
hands of an angry God. We would detest it still more, be 
cause by it we commit the greatest wrong and the greatest 
offence against the Author of grace. 

For after we have been called by grace unto the wor 
ship of God, we offend Him not only as our highest and 
legitimate Lord, to whom we owe unlimited service and re 
spect, but as our most loving Father, our best Friend, the 
most tender Spouse of our soul. We mock the ineffable 
love with which He embraces us, and return the basest in- 

Fourth Preparation: Contrition. 375 

gratitude for His inestimable gifts and blessings. We dis 
grace and dishonor His name by dishonoring the name of 
His children and showing ourselves unworthy of Him. 
We tear our soul loose from His bosom,, where He loved it as 
the apple of his eye, and considered it the jewel and the 
joy of His heart. We rend the heavenly robe of innocence 
and sanctity,, with which He had clothed us and presented 
us to the whole Heaven. We desert, like Judas, our Lord 
and Saviour, miserably betraying Him, who by His grace 
had numbered us amongst His friends and beloved. Oh, 
what pain do we inflict upon His paternal heart, how deep 
ly do we offend and wound it ! Must He not utter the 
same complaint about us which by the mouth of the Psalm 
ist He spoke of Judas: 1 " If my enemy had reviled me, 1 
would verily have borne luith it. . . . but tliou, a man of one 
mind, my guide and my familiar, who didst take sweet meats 
together with me " 9 And should we be so inhuman and 
devoid of feeling, as not to be moved, or to think only of 
the harm which accrues to us from such a terrible sin ? 

The offence of a son against his father is more wicked and 
abominable than the offence of a servant. But it would be 
far more wicked still if a servant, whom the particular 
kindness of his master had adopted as a son, in base in 
gratitude for such love did not hesitate recklessly to grieve 
and offend him. Is not this the case with us who have 
been made children of God by His grace and who are thus 
far more indebted to Him than if we were His children by 
nature ? Oh, the crime, oh, the ingratitude ! That we 
should even now dare to refuse Him our love and should 
requite His tenderness by mean disobedience ! 

But how great must be our sorrow, when we consider 
what God has sacrificed for us, in order to make us His 
children ; how He gave His only-begotten Son for us, in 
order that He might, by His blood, purchase grace for us ! 
If our heart still retains a feeling of humanity and grati 
tude, if it be not more cruel than the tiger and hyena, it 

1 Ps. liv. 13-15. 

376 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

must dissolve in unbounded sorrow. By sin we have tram 
pled under foot the precious blood of the Son of God,, frus 
trated its efficacy in us, have rejected the dearest pledge of 
the love of the Eternal Father. He seeks our friendship at 
every price and to secure it sacrifices the best He has to 
offer. How much must He be pained, if even so we de 
spise His friendship and mock it ! 

Oh, let us have mercy on our tender Father, whom we 
have grieved so greatly, if we will have no mercy on our 
selves ! Let us feel with Him the gravity of our sin, the 
greatness of our ingratitude, and let us instantly relieve 
His paternal heart by sincere repentance and deep contri 
tion ! Let us hasten to ask His pardon, to wash away the 
stain of sin by our tears, and to redeem it, as far as pos 
sible, by a most fervent love ! 

Let us never be contented with our contrition, since it 
can never be great enough to outweigh the greatness of 
such a sin ; for if the infinite merit of Christ did not come 
to our assistance, we should never be able to render a per 
fect satisfaction to God, and all our possible effort would 
be of no value, unless the grace of the Holy Ghost ren 
dered it precious and valuable. Let us never cease to 
weep and to be indignant at ourselves ; let us humble our 
selves in the face of our heavenly Father, and in humble 
confusion confess to Him that we are not worthy of being 
called His children. In this manner we shall soon recover 
His grace, and in our sorrow experience that sweet joy 
which is the privilege of the child who from a long exile at 
last returns home. 

3. True contrition must continue even after the recon 
ciliation with God, and just then prove its sincerity. A 
child who has grievously offended its father will not for 
get him after its sin has been forgiven, but will always be 
pained at the recollection of its great offence ; it will in 
future be the more careful not to again offend its father, 
to whose indulgence it is doubly indebted. After we have 
been received again unto the grace of God, and after 

Fourth Preparation: Contrition. 377 

our sins have been sunk into the depths of the ocean, we 
must forget them the less, as the forgiveness of our sins has 
still more manifested to us the ineffable love of God. 
The consciousness of reconciliation must fill us with peace 
and holy happiness. But we shall truly enjoy this peace 
and happiness only when we continue to do penance for 
our sins and to lament them ; for by that we become ever 
more worthy of the grace of God, and ever more certain of 
His positive pardon. This continued sorrow for our former 
calamity, and this remembrance of our past wickedness, will 
likewise alone prevent us from relapsing into the same evil 
and from repeating the same crime. 


The Supernatural Life that we must lead in the 
State of Grace. 


|ET us give thanks to God, if by His mercy He has 
delivered us from our sins and received us again 
unto His grace. But now we have the obligation, 
too, of living and acting in accordance with the high dig 
nity we hold, and of turning the talent received to the best 

" You were heretofore darkness " says the Apostle, l 
" lid arc, now light in the Lord. Walk, then, as children of 
the light: For the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and 
justice, and truth." " Brethren," says the same Apostle 
in another place, a if you he risen with Christ, seek the 
things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the riglit 
hand of God. Mind the things that are above, not the tilings 
that are upon the earth. For you are dead, and your life is 
hid with Christ in God." 

Yes, dear Christian, when you are liberated from the 
death of sin, born again to a new life, and from a servant 
and an enemy have been made a child of God, then 
you must deem it } T our honor, your pride, and your high 
est happiness to fulfil the duties which your new state 
imposes upon you. You are estranged from the world, 
the devil, and the flesh, liberated from their tyranny ; you 
are made a citizen of Heaven, a domestic of God, and a 
temple of the Holy Ghost, It, therefore, behooves you to 
renounce the laws of the world, the devil, and. the flesh, 
and to live and labor henceforth according to the will of 

1 Eph. v. 8-10. 2 Col. iii. 1-3. 

The Supernatural Life. 379 

your heavenly Father, according to the example of His 
only-begotten Son,, and according to the inspiration of the 
Holy Ghost. 

This new life must be a heavenly, spiritual, holy, and 
Divine life, and therefore, also, a mysterious life, as the 
Apostle in several places calls it. It must be heavenly, 
because you are by grace elevated from earth to Heaven ; 
you stand with the angels before the throne of God, to 
praise and glorify Him as the Author of all grace and the 
Source of all good. It must be spiritual, because it is in 
spired in you by the Holy Spirit, who moves, vivifies, 
and animates the children of God, liberates them from the 
slavery of the flesh, and makes them so live in the flesh, as 
if they were pure spirits and angels of Heaven. It must 
be holy, for if God is holy His children must be holy : 
holy in their sentiments, holy in their words, holy in their 
conduct. It must even be a Divine life, because by grace 
we have been made partakers of the Divine nature, since 
we no longer live but God lives in us, God acts in us, God 
penetrates us with His being and His infinite Providence. 

But on that account it is also a mysterious and hidden 
life, a life that remains hidden from the eyes of the world 
and cannot even by ourselves be known and comprehended 
in its whole depth and sublimity. The world, sunk in the 
darkness of sin and concupiscence, does not recognize in 
us the sublime dignity of the d^ren of God, nor the 
high and intimate union with God which is the effect of 
grace, and therefore, it despises our quiet life, which is hid 
den in God, as idle, meaningless hypocrisy. Let us not be 
deceived by its foolish babble. Let us adhere to our holy 
faith, which leads us beyond the world up into invisible, 
mysterious regions, whither our natural eye may not pene 
trate. Let us not hinder God in displaying His myster 
ious operations in our soul, let us surrender ourselves to 
the direction of the Holy Ghost, who dwells in our heart 
and fills it with the whole plenitude of His Divinity. Let 
us remember that the life of the Son of God upon earth 

380 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

was also a hidden life, and that in the words of the Apos 
tle, when Christ shall appear, who is our life, we also shall 
appear with Him in glory. 

2. The more mysterious and sublime this life is that we 
must lead in grace, the more do we need a visible pattern 
after which we must develop this life in us. 

Christ, as the only-begotten and first-born Son of God, 
is the model and pattern of all the children of God. He 
and He alone could give us a worthy example how we 
should live as children of God ; He and He alone is a 
model worthy of our sublime state and calling. If grace 
did not elevate us so high above our nature, it would have 
been unworthy of Him to descend in person from Heaven 
upon earth, in order to teach us how we must live as mere 
human beings and servants of God. But if grace, from 
servants of God makes us children of God, from earthly 
men domestics of God, then could the only-begotten Son 
of God teach us the sublime and Divine manners which 
correspond to this new vocation. 

A man of the common people who has never seen the 
court of his king and is suddenly, by an unheard-of grace, 
adopted as the son of the king, would of course be ig 
norant of the manners suitable to his new dignity ; much 
less could he learn this of others, who were his equals, 
and he must consequently look to the conduct of the 
courtiers and the true children of the king for an example. 
In like manner are we unable to learn, either from our rea 
son, or from the example of other pure men, the manners 
and the life which become us as adoptive children of 
God. But since on earth we cannot behold the only- 
begotten Son in the Divine glory which He enjoys with 
the Father, therefore this Son had to descend upon earth 
to walk in our midst, in our own nature, to develop before 
our eyes His Divine life and the splendor of His holiness, 
and had thus to become our teacher and our model. Him 
we must imitate, if we would be children of God. Him 
we must put on. to Him we must conform, His image we 

The Supernat^lral Life. 381 

must bear, His spirit and sentiments we must appropriate, 
His inclinations and virtues -we must study and express in 
us, that His heavenly Father may be honored by us as by 
Him and may take pleasure in us as in Him. 

Oh, what honor for us that we should imitate the only- 
begotten Son as His brethren and as members of His body! 
We admire the heroic virtues and noble qualities of many 
men and would consider ourselves happy if we could ac 
quire them to some extent, thereby elevating ourselves 
above the narrow limits of the great multitude and of 
every day life. How honorable, then, must it be for us, to 
be called to imitate and to express in us the heavenly and 
Divine virtues of the Son of God, which are an object of 
admiration for the whole Heaven ! 

But how disgraceful were it, likewise, if in our high 
state we should be contented with the vain phantom 
which the world calls the virtue of a righteous man ! For 
if a natural human righteousness can adorn a man, it 
adorns a Christian as little as the manners and virtues of a 
civilian would do honor to a king. We are, as St. Peter 
says, 1 "a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy 
nation. By baptism and by grace we are made mem 
bers of Christ, and are raised to a, royal dignity, to a union 
with Christ as our Head, and must serve and glorify Him, 
the King of kings, as His children, and we are to reign 
with Him and to share His kingdom and His happiness. 
We arc Christians, /. c. f members of Christ, brethren of 
Christ ; Christians, i. c., sanctified and consecrated by the 
anointing of the Holy Ghost, and as such we must lead a 
Christian life, a life according to the example of Christ, a 
life for Christ and for the honor of Christ, in a word, a 
life in Christ, a life which Christ lives in us, as in His 
members, and which we live in Him as our Head. 

3. Alas, Christians themselves understand too little 
the sublime nature and the Divine character of this Chris 
tian life ; they have but a very confused and indistinct 
1 I.Peter If. \ 

382 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

idea of it. Let us endeavor to render this idea as clear 
and plain as possible. 

We distinguish in man, with reference to his nature, a 
twofold, and, if we take grace also into consideration, a 
threefold life : sensual life, spiritual life, and Divine life. 
Each life has its own principle, its own law, its own light, 
its own end, its own motives. 

The principle of sensual life is the soul, with its sensual 
nature and faculties, by which it is similar to the animal. 
The sensual nature of man has a natural law, the law of 
the flesh, which impels it to seek sensual and material good 
and to foster and preserve bodily life. The light which di 
rects him in the execution of this law is the light of the 
five senses, which proposes to him this good. Corresponding 
to this law, bodily life has for its end the preservation and 
propagation of bodily life, and for its attracting motive 
the sensual pleasure, enjoyment, and relish which it finds 
in material good. 

If man now would devote himself to this sensual life and 
indulge in it alone, he would evidently renounce his nobler 
spiritual nature and the natural likeness of God in his soul ; 
he would degrade himself to the level of the brute and even 
beneath it. The animal leads a sensual life, because it can 
lead no other, because it is called and qualified for no other. 
Man, however, by such a life, drags all the high and noble 
qualities, with which God has endowed him, into the mire ; 
casting himself with his superior force and energy into 
the sensual, he does not confine himself to the limits which 
nature has placed for the brute, but sinks himself deeper 
into the sensual than the brute. Therefore our nobler 
nature is averse to such conduct : " The spirit lusteth 
against the flesh" says the Apostle, and the confusion, so 
beautifully depicted on our cheeks, is witness thereof. 

This sensual life is naturally inferior and subordinate to 
the spiritual life in us. The principle of this life is the soul 
with its spiritual faculties, reason and will. Its law con- 

1 Gal. v. IT. 

The Supernatural Life. 583 

sists in the natural tendency towards spiritual good, which 
corresponds to our spiritual nature, and in the natural 
relations which we, as rational creatures, have towards 
God and our fellow-men. Its light, therefore, is our 
natural reason ; its end the attainment of a natural happi 
ness and such glorification of God as He may expect and 
demand of His servants ; its motives, finally, lie in the af 
finity and conformity of spiritual goods with our spiritual 
nature, and in the reverence for the imperious law of our 
mighty Lord and Creator. 

But this spiritual life may be a good and true life, or a 
false and bad one. It is true and good, if we follow the 
true tendency, which the Creator has implanted in our na 
ture, and which, in reality, is nothing else than the law of 
the Creator Himself ; if we, therefore, tend to those goods 
which may render our nature truly perfect and happy, if 
we, above all, seek the knowledge and love of the Creator. 
It is a false life, however, if we seek only an apparent good, 
as the honor of men, or if, instead of following the high 
est good and seeking happiness in it, we would be content 
with a finite created good, and instead of referring the 
knowledge and love of creatures to the knowledge and love 
of the Creator, we would be satisfied with the former alone. 

This false spiritual life is the life of most men who do 
not rush headlong into the whirl of sensual lust. It is less 
disgraceful and humiliating than animal life, yet it is 
equally vain and foolish, equally unworthy of man, and in 
capable of giving him happiness as is the animal life. 

But is the truly natural spiritual life, which we have just 
described, a Christian life, a life worthy of a Christian ? 
Far from it. It is worthy of the natural man, and 
if God had given us no higher dignity, no higher des 
tiny, we might and ought to be content with it, and God 
would likewise be satisfied with such a life. But if God 
has given us a higher dignity, a higher destiny (as He has 
actually done), then He can find no pleasure in such a 
natural life on our part, and we must not be content with 

384 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

it. Since we have been elevated far above our nature by 
the grace of Christ, and are no longer simple men, but 
more than men, having been made partakers of the Divine 
nature and children of God, we must lead a supernatural 
life, a life that is not only far above the sensual, nor only 
above the vain and false spiritual life, but above the pur 
est, truest, and most perfect spiritual life; in a word, we 
must lead a life that is infinitely superior to all natural life. 

The principles of this supernatural life are the spiritual 
faculties of the soul, as transformed by grace ; they are the 
supernatural virtues, infused by the Holy Ghost, and es 
pecially the Divine virtues. Its law is a supernatural law, 
which is not naturally implanted in us, but is written and 
impressed upon our soul supernaturally by the finger of 
God, and which we know neither by our senses, nor by our 
reason, but alone by supernatural faith in the light of the 
Holy Ghost. Its end is the possession and enjoyment of 
the highest and most sublime gifts, which God Himself 
possesses and enjoys, and that glorification of God which 
He can expect and demand as a Father from His children. 
Its motives, finally, lie in that supernatural and mysterious 
affinity with God into which we enter by grace, and in 
that wonderful power of attraction which God and His 
supernatural gifts exercise in consequence of this affinity. 

Then only do we live as Christians, when our life is from 
grace, directed by the light of faith and the law revealed to 
us by the Holy Spirit, when it tends towards the heavenly 
happiness promised us by God, and when its acts are deter 
mined by supernatural motives. Then only is our life in 
harmony with our heavenly nature of grace, when it is a 
supernatural life ; for the supernatural life and it alone is 
conformable to the man who by grace has been elevated 
above all the limits of his nature. The supernatural life 
ceases, as it were, to be supernatural for him, since it be 
comes his second nature, and he would, therefore, act 
against his higher nature if he would lead a mere human, 
natural life. 

The Supernatural L ife. 385 

Ho would act as contrary to his nature, as when a 
rational man would not live conformably to the nobler 
part of his nature, his reason,, but conformably to the lower 
part, sensuality. It is natural for the worm to crawl upon 
the earth, and it would be unreasonable to demand of it to 
fly. But if by the omnipotence of God it had been con 
verted into a bird and had been gifted with wings, this de 
mand would no longer be unreasonable, but entirely natural, 
and that animal would henceforth act contrary to its 
nature, if it would not raise itself to lofty heights, but would 
continue to crawl upon the earth. It would likewise be 
unreasonable to demand of the natural and earthly man 
that he should lead a Divine and heavenly life. But after 
he has by grace deposed the lowliness of his nature and has 
been clothed with a Divine nature, he would disown himself 
if he continued his former habit of life and would not 
move in a higher sphere. 

4. Let us not be misled by the belief that only the great 
saints can and ought to lead a supernatural life. This life 
does not consist in those extraordinary revelations, ecstasies, 
and miracles with which the saints are favored by God, but 
rather in the intimate union with God which grace renders 
possible for us all, and in that holy dignity and value 
which the unction of the Holy Ghost communicates to all 
the actions of the true Christian. The general dignity and 
destiny of all Christians is the foundation upon which the 
saints constructed the high edifice of their virtues and 
graces ; it is the root which in the saints is developed in all 
its richness, in all its fulness. We have, then, the same 
foundation, the same root of sanctity, and if in us it does 
not attain such splendid development, it is because we do 
not sufficiently co-operate with the work of grace, or per 
haps even place a thousand obstacles in its way. 

" God is wonderful in His saints. says Holy Writ, 1 
wonderful in the high degree of perfection to which He 
leads them, wonderful in the supernatural favors which He 

1 Ps. Ixvii. SO. 

386 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

bestows upon them, wonderful, finally, in the miracles He 
works through their instrumentality. But God is wonder 
ful also in every Christian who endeavors to preserve and to 
develop the sanctity received in baptism. Every supernat 
ural act that we elicit, every act of faith, hope, and charity, 
is a greater miracle than all external signs that God 
works in or through His saints, and as great a miracle 
as the sensible, heavenly illuminations and emotions 
which He so often grants the saints. For really there 
can be nothing greater on earth than the acts of the 
Divine virtues, by which we partake of God s own life, and 
those special favors are only means by which the saints are 
to unite themselves to God ever more intimately in faith, 
hope, and charity, and are to invite others to a supernatural 
union with God. 

Oh, how is it possible that there are still so many men 
who are unmindful of their high calling, and who would 
rather cling to the earth than be borne to Heaven by 
God, who would rather move within the limits of their 
poor nature, than transcend these limits and with the 
angels lead a heavenly and Divine life ! I do not speak 
of those even who surrender themselves to the lust of the 
flesh and lower themselves to the level of the beast, nor of 
those who adhere to the vanities, if not to the filth, of this 
earth ; but of those who at least profess to practise natural, 
rational virtue and piety, and despise and ridicule every 
thing that goes beyond this as mysticism, bigotry, and 
hypocrisy. What greater insult could they offer to God, 
than to despise and contemn His highest and noblest gifts ? 
What greater disgrace can they bring upon themselves, 
than to forget and disclaim their heavenly dignity and 
in narrow stupidity close their heart to the grace of God ? 

Be this far from you, my dear Christian, if you indeed 
know the significance of this name, and will glory in it ! 
Follow the grace of God with your whole heart, and en 
deavor, as a true child of God, to become more and more 
like unto Christ, your heavenly pattern. Be not guided 

The Supernatural Life. 387 

by the laws of a perverted world, nor even by those of yonr 
normal and noble nature, but solely and alone by the law 
of grace and of the Holy Ghost. Keep the lofty height to 
which grace has elevated you ; let yourself be borne aloft 
by the Spirit of God and soar above the earth, above your 
own nature, and move only in the courts of Heaven. Be very 
zealous in the exercise of the heavenly virtues, which have 
been infused into your soul in holy baptism. This practice 
is the only occupation worthy of your high dignity; it 
alone is the exercise of the supernatural, heavenly, and 
Divine life of the children of God. 

The Exercise of Supernatural Love of God. 


| HE most peculiar,, natural, and sublime act for 
him who is renovated and regenerated by the 
grace of Christ, is the act of supernatural love of 
God. This love is the breath that vivifies the child of 
God, it is the pulsation of his heart and the motive power 
of all his actions. 

The communication of grace is the most complete and 
potent proof of the intimate and sublime love of God for 
His creatures. Grace is the kiss by which God in His 
supreme condescension receives the soul as His daughter, 
friend, and spouse. What could the soul do in return for 
this love, by which God approaches it so near, what could 
it do more appropriately than love Him again as it is loved 
by Him ? The Latin language has a very ingenious play 
of words, to express the gratitude for tokens of affection re 
ceived ; it says : to receive grace and to return grace, to re 
ceive favor and return favor. If, in general, love must create 
love, then the Divine love, which is shown us in grace, 
must do this particularly. For when God bestows His 
grace upon us, He at the same time makes us worthy of 
His love and gives us the power to love Him again, which 
no other lover can do. Moreover, He unites Himself so 
intimately to the soul, that He not only is and remains sub 
stantially present in its interior, but forms, together with it, 
as it were, one whole, one spirit. What, then, is more nat 
ural than that the soul, which beholds itself thus inde 
scribably loved by God, thus animated and attracted by 
Him, should burn with most fervent love for Him ? 

Exercise of -Supernatural Love of God. 389 

Nothing is more natural to the fire than to give light 
and to burn. Grace, however, makes us partakers of the 
Divine nature ; it is the heat which transforms the soul in 
God, and into the image of His Divine being, which is the 
purest spiritual fire. Nothing is therefore more natural to 
the soul than to be enlightened and warmed enlightened 
in the knowledge, and warmed in the love of God. 
The light of grace will become perfect when it has passed 
into the light of glory, and lets us behold God face to face. 
Here upon earth it must chiefly develop its warmth, and as 
the vision of God is the most natural and principal act of the 
glorified in Heaven, so the love of God is the most natural 
and important act of the justified upon earth. Therefore 
our Lord says : " I am come to cast fire on the earth, and 
what will Il)ut that it ~be kindled?" Oh, that we suffered 
it to be kindled and to burn in us, that we also inflamed 
our soul by the fire of grace, which transforms and beauti 
fies it, and that our will were converted into a living fire 
of love, in order to live and act only in love ! 

2. The love of God is not only the most natural and ap 
propriate, but also the most sublime activity and occupation 
of the justified soul ; or rather, it is so appropriate and 
natural an occupation for the child of God, because it is so 
sublime, because it is peculiarly Divine. God Himself has 
no greater and more sublime occupation than the vision 
and love of Himself ; this occupation is alone worthy of His 
infinite greatness and calls into action His whole infinite 
power. Through all eternity He does nothing else and has 
no other necessity than to behold and love His infinite 
beauty and goodness. The whole immense work of His 
creation does not occupy Him so much or task His power 
as much as one single moment of His charity. The creation 
is but a small spark, that rises up from the fiery ocean 
of Divine love, as a slight manifestation of its infinite 
fulness and glory. What greater thing could the creature 
do, what greater proof could it give of its participation in 

1 Luke xii. ID. 

39 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

the Divine nature and its similarity with God, than to love 
Him and especially to love Him in the manner in which He 
loves Himself ! If all creation is nothing in comparison to 
the Divine love, from which it proceeded, how much less, 
then, are all the possible works of a creature in comparison 
with one act of Divine love ! 

Moreover, every act is the more perfect, the more sublime 
its object is and the more intimately it unites us with the 
object. But can there be a more sublime object than God, 
the infinite good, and can we be united to Him more in 
timately and perfectly, at least here on earth, than by love ? 
And if this be true already of the natural love of God, how 
much more true is it of the supernatural love, by which we 
hold and enjoy God in closest embrace ? Indeed, as only 
the love of His infinite goodness is worthy of God, so a 
Divine love of God is the only occupation worthy of His 
children. This love alone ought to satisfy us, even if we 
had nothing else to do on earth ; it alone makes us more 
like unto God than all other works, be they ever so great. 
We should therefore take pride in this love, and as we may 
boast of having been admitted by grace to the participation 
of the Divine nature, so we may boast of being permitted 
to love Him as He loves Himself. 

3. Yea, this love is something so great and sublime, 
that theologians and spiritual writers say of it, likewise, 
that it deifies us and transforms us into God. Grace trans 
forms our nature in God by the greatest possible liken 
ing and union to His nature ; supernatural love, how 
ever, transforms our affection into a Divine affection by 
likening and uniting it, as far as possible, to the Divine 
love and goodness. Let us endeavor to explain this mystery 
more fully. 

As long as we consider ourselves according to our nature, 
we may love ourselves only on account of our own self ; we 
are the next object of our love, even though we must love 
and respect God as our Creator infinitely more than ourself. 
By grace, however, we arc so intimately united to God, 

Exercise of Supernatural Love of God. 391 

that we are, in a wonderful manner, made one with Him, 
that we are made, as it were, a part of Him, as the member 
is a part of the body, and we live more of Him than of our 
selves. Therefore God must be the next and only object 
of our love, so that we live only for Him, as we live only of 
Him. Furthermore, if our supernatural love is a partici 
pation of that love which God bears Himself, then our 
love must also resemble, in a manner, the love of God ; i. e., 
we embrace, in the first place, only God by this love, and 
love every other thing only in so far as it is like unto God, 
is united to Him, or belongs to Him. By this love we can 
therefore no longer love even ourselves besides God and out 
side of God, but only through and in God. As we there 
fore by grace cast off the lowliness of our nature and tran 
scend its narrow limits, so we must in supernatural love give 
up all natural self-love, and go beyond the narrow sphere 
of our natural life, in order to live only for God and in 
God, as if we were one being, one person with Him. Here 
we are no longer allowed to make a distinction in love be 
tween Him and ourselves, that is, we can no longer love our 
selves by one kind of love and God by another. But as 
God loves Himself on His own account and loves us for 
His own sake, so we must love God for His sake, and our 
selves in Him. And as we are one spirit with Him by the 
similitude and union of our nature with His, so must we be 
one spirit with Him by the similitude and union of our love 
with His love. 

" chaste and holy love \" exclaims St. Bernard ! " 
sweet and pleasant sensation ! pure and hallowed ten 
dency of the will ! So much purer and holier, because there 
is no longer any admixture of self-love ; so much sweeter 
and more agreeable, as the whole object of sensation is 
Divine. To be thus affected, is to be deified, as a little drop 
of water, poured into a large quantity of wine, is lost there 
in and receives the taste and color of the wine ; as the iron 
glowing with heat is deprived of its own previous form, and 

1 De dilig. Deo. cap. 10. 

39 2 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

made very like unto the fire ; as the air, pervaded by the light 
of the sun, is transformed into the same luminous splendor, 
to that extent that it seems not only to be illuminated, but 
to be the light itself ; so all human affection of the saints 
must one day be itself dissolved in a certain wonderful man 
ner, and must entirely pass over into the will of God. How 
could God otherwise be all in all, if in man there still re 
mained anything of man ? " 

See, dear Christian, how glorious and sublime is the per 
fection of love, to which you have been called by grace and 
which is contained in grace as in its germ, and needs only 
your development under the assistance of God ! Do not 
shudder when you hear of mortification, self-denial, and 
self-renunciation. This is true self-love. You must sur 
render yourself only to find yourself again better and more 
beautiful in God. You must cease to love yourself with a 
natural human love, in order to embrace yourself in God and 
for God with a holy and Divine love. Mortification, says St. 
Bernard, is pleasanter and more agreeable in proportion to 
its purity and perfection ; and as grace does not destroy 
our nature, but glorifies it, so the Divine love which pro 
ceeds from grace only transforms your love to render it 
nobler and holier. 

4. But as grace does not on earth so transform our 
nature that all its frailties and miseries disappear, but 
unites it entirely with God and transforms it into His 
image only in Heaven, so it is impossible in this life for 
our love and affection to be entirely deified ; that is, that 
we may love and perceive nothing but God alone, or in 
God and for God alone. Only in eternity, where God is 
all in all, will we enjoy this indescribable happiness. But 
this does not prevent us from striving after such perfection 
already on earth, and to attain it here to a certain extent. 
For by grace we are born for Heaven, and the love which 
has its source in grace can and must be at least of the 
same nature, if not the same degree of perfection, as is the 
love of the blessed in Heaven. 

.Exercise of Supernatural Love of God. 393 

Therefore, if we cannot banish from our heart every 
natural lore of ourselves and of other creatures, it is still 
possible for us to embrace ourselves and other creatures 
also with a supernatural Divine love and to see that the 
former do not antagonize the latter. That is, in truth, the 
limit of the law of charity, as God has imposed it on us 
for this earth. Yet noble and high-minded souls are not 
content w r ith this. They desire to share on earth already 
the lot of the saints in Heaven and endeavor, therefore, to 
renounce completely nature and all natural love, to be im 
mersed ever more in the abyss of grace and to cultivate 
and foster in themselves supernatural love only. They 
therefore mortify, whenever possible, their natural impulse 
and inclination, even if these are not opposed to grace, 
simply because these weaken the intimate union with God 
and render it more difficult. If they cannot attach all 
their faculties and inclinations to God, and give them a 
Divine disposition, they at least strive to keep their free 
will fixed upon God and united with Him. They strive to 
transform it at least entirely in God by love, so that, pene 
trated by Divine fire, it may desire and love what God 
loves and desires, and in the manner in which, and for the 
reason for which God loves and desires it. Thus they 
live in God and God lives in them, and they may exclaim 
with the Apostle : "I live, now not I, lut Christ liveth 

This is life by grace ; this is in reality a union witli God 
by love, similar to His union with us by grace. Though 
not all are easily able to acquire the perfection of the 
saints, yet all should seek it in some measure ; otherwise, 
they are faithless to the grace given them, do not appro 
priate its virtue, nor develop its seed. Otherwise, they 
bury this sacred fire beneath its ashes and smother its 
flame ; they become lukewarm and an object of disgust in 
the eyes of eternal love, and are in danger of extinguishing 
even the live coal under the ashes. Grace abhors inactiv- 

1 Gal. ii. SiO. 

394 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

ity more than nature abhors a vacuum. He who does 
not permit the activity of grace in him, despises it and 
despises God Himself, who gives it only to inflame us. 
Who does not consider the gift wasted which he has con 
ferred upon an ungrateful man ? THio is not grieved to 
see his gifts go to ruin unimproved ? It is meet, then, 
that we should be grateful to God and should zealously use 
His grace, if we would preserve it in us. 

Let us, therefore, endeavor to cultivate and develop that 
sacred charity which the Holy Spirit has infused into our 
soul, and let all our actions, all our desires, be penetrated 
by it. Let us clear away the ashes of sinful and earthly 
inclination, under which this holy fire is smouldering, and 
let us, then, simply permit God to act in us. He Himself 
will inflame and increase it, He will draw us ever more to 
Himself, unite us ever more closely to Himself, so that we 
too may exclaim with the Apostle : " I live, now not I, 
but Clirist Uvetli in me." 


The Exercise of Supernatural Love of our 


IN the state of grace we must have a supernatural 
love, not only for God, but also for our neighbor ; 
or rather, we must practise and exercise the love 
of God by the love of our neighbor. For the supernatural 
love of oar neighbor is one and the same virtue with the 
supernatural love of God ; the former is contained in the 
latter and must proceed from it. 

When we love our fellow-men with a natural love, we 
love them because they are of the same nature as we, 
because they are like unto us and are connected with us 
by near or remote ties of relationship or society. Thus 
the child loves its father, the brother his sister, the friend 
his friend, the citizen his fellow-citizen. The Church 
teaches that this love is not reprehensible, but good in its 
kind, as long as it is not contrary to the love of God and 
does not transgress the limits of Divine law. But it is 
always a mere human and natural, not a Divine and su 
pernatural love, and, therefore, it is not the Christian 
love which behooves a man regenerated by the grace of 
Christ, nor is it before God meritorious of eternal life. 
It would, therefore, be the greatest folly to be proud of 
and to glory in this love, or to represent it even as nobler 
and more beautiful than the Christian love of our neighbor, 
which springs from grace. 

As Christians we must love our neighbor not ly nature, 
but by grace, and therefore, not according to nature, but 
according to grace ; that is, we must love him because he is 

396 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

united to us by grace. TVc must love him because he 
also has been made a partaker of Divine nature by grace, 
and has been elevated above his own nature, or at least des 
tined to such elevation and glory. 

Not his human nature, but the Divine nature, which 
impresses its own image upon him, not so much he him 
self, in and by himself, but rather God, who is united to 
him in grace, must be the motive of our love, and there 
fore we must embrace him with the same supernatural 
and Divine love which we have for God Himself. 

And indeed, is not our fellow-man a child of God by 
grace, born and generated of God, God s supernatural like 
ness, and must not, therefore, the same love that embraces 
God, also extend to him as a child of God ? Is he not by 
grace a brother, and, what is more, a living member of 
Jesus Christ, and can we love Christ without loving at the 
same time, in Him and with Him, His brethren and mem 
bers ? Is he not by grace a temple, in which the Holy 
Spirit resides truly and personally with His whole Divinity, 
not only as a man in his house, but as the soul in the bod} T , 
and can we, then, think of separating in our affection what 
the Divine love has so intimately and inseparably united ? 
No, we can and must love our fellow-men in God and on ac 
count of God ; and if special ties of society or relationship 
unite us more with one man than with another, we must 
consider these ties only with reference to God, who has 
formed them, and thus we shall lend them a heavenly sanc 
tion and a Divine nobility. 

Our fellow-men, indeed, approach us very near only in 
God and by grace, incomparably nearer than all natural re 
lations can bring them to us. In grace we all are one with 
God, and amongst ourselves we penetrate each other, as it 
were, in the bosom and heart of God, who has converted 
us all by grace in Himself. Therefore, too, supernatural 
Christian love is generally called love of our neighbor. 
By nature one is nearer to us, another less near, and 
many stand almost in no relation whatever to us. Grate, 

Supernatural Love of our Neighbor. 397 

however, brings us all wonderfully together in a spiritual 
manner ; we are all children in God, brethren in God, 
stones of the same Divine temple, and members of the 
same mystic body of Christ ; all are our neighbors and 
therefore we can and must enclose all in the wide embrace of 
the one Divine love. Thus Christian love of our neighbor 
has its particular supernatural motive in the fact that 
our neighbor has acquired by grace a supernatural loveli 

2. But the grace which w r e have ourselves received must 
also impel us to this love. He who is loved, we have al 
ready said, must love again ; he who receives favor must 
show himself grateful for it and make as great a return as 
he can. But we can give God nothing that will profit 
Him any, or that is not His already. Therefore He re 
quires of us that as we have been loved and favored by 
Him, so we must love and favor, as much as possible, our 
fellow-men, and He, at the same time, promises us that He 
will so receive all we do for His children, as if we had 
done it for Himself. " If God hath so loved us, ive also 
ought to love one another." 1 And the Apostle exhorts us, 2 
"Be ye kind one to another, merciful, forgiving one an 
other, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ." The 
greater the grace is which God has extended to us, 
the more generous His liberality, by which He gave us 
Himself in grace, the more charitable, liberal, and merci 
ful must we be to those whom we may help and assist. 
We should be boundlessly good and merciful towards our 
neighbor, as God has been infinitely good and merciful to 
wards us. We should devote ourselves to our neighbor and 
sacrifice our life for his salvation, as God has given Him 
self entirely to us in grace, and has sacrificed His own life 
to obtain grace for us. Only thus shall we be worthy 
children of God, only thus do we give proof that we truly 
.and perfectly acknowledge His favor and show ourselves 
worthy of it. 

1 I. Johniv. 11. - 2 Eph. iv. 3.2. 

398 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

These reasons have infused into the first Christians and 
into all the saints of Christian charity that sublime lofti 
ness of spirit., that superhuman inspiration, which appeared 
as a phenomenon of the other world, which astonished all. 
and made the heathens cry out : " See how they love one 
another." Yes, he alone can love as the saints loved, who 
knows how much he, as well as his neighbor, is loved by 
God. How grateful he must be for the grace received from 
Him, and how much the neighbor, as a child of God and 
brother of Christ, deserves the same love and respect as God, 
who lives in him and to whom he belongs ! 

But now, my Christian reader, you also are aware of it, 
after you have considered and understood the glories of 
grace. Will you remain behind on the way of love, and 
not hasten to follow in the footsteps of the saints ? Will 
you henceforth still be indifferent towards your neighbor, 
and despise him, who by grace is a child of God and heir 
of Heaven, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy 
Ghost ? Will you in future still close your heart and hand, 
deny him your help and your services, when God has poured 
out upon you the whole fulness of His infinite love and 
has enriched you with all His treasures ? No, you will go 
to serve God in His children with the angels. You will be 
happy to return, in some measure at least, God s un 
bounded love for you by the benefits which you render your 
neighbor. You will love your neighbor and love him as 
God has loved him, who has descended from Heaven upon 
earth for his sake, has shed His precious blood and loved 
him unto the end, unto death. You will love him, as the 
Apostle admonishes, not in word or with the tongue only, 
but in deed and from your heart. 

3. But by what action, by what works will you manifest 
your love for your neighbor ? With what gifts will you 
enrich your neighbor ? 

In the first place, with those supernatural gifts of grace 
with which God has so lovingly endowed you, and which 
are the highest and most glorious gifts that He Himself 

Supernatural Lcve of our Neighbor. 399 

wishes yonr neighbor above all others. If you truly love God, 
you will above all desire that your neighbor also should be 
united with God by the same love ; and if you love your 
neighbor and are zealous for his true happiness, your first 
care will be to make him partake of the same happiness of 
grace which has fallen to your own lot. And how much 
may you achieve in this respect with the help of God, who 
blesses nothing more than the charitable zeal for the salva 
tion of souls ! You may pray : pray for the infidels, that 
the heavenly dawn of faith, the harbinger of grace, may 
illumine their souls ; pray for the sinners, that God, by a sin 
cere conversion, may lead them back again into the bosom of 
grace ; pray for the just, that they may increase grace in 
themselves from hour to hour, and persevere in it unto the 
end. You may let your example shine before men, that 
they may learn how sweet and pleasant it is to adhere to 
God, and how easy to overcome sin and to practise virtue 
with the assistance of His grace. You may instruct the 
erring, confirm the wearied, encourage the indolent, warn 
the incautious, rescue those who are in danger of being se 
duced. Your charity will find a thousand other occasions 
and means of activity ; for love is inventive, and the more 
inventive the more fervent and zealous it is. 

Heavenly charity seeks, in the first place, to communi 
cate heavenly gifts. Yet as the Son of God descended 
from Heaven upon earth, not only to bring us heavenly 
gifts, but to alleviate also the corporal and temporal mis 
ery of mankind ; as He went about doing good and marked 
His every step with wonderful blessings, so the Divine 
charity, which the Christian bears his neighbor, descends 
from the soul to the body of the neighbor, without deny 
ing its heavenly origin and character. The whole man is 
sanctified by grace ; the body also is made a temple of the 
Holy Ghost and is incorporated into the mystical body of 
Christ ; it also is destined one day to partake of the glorifi 
cation of the soul by grace, and to enjoy the glories of 
grace with it. Is not this sufficient reason for the Chris- 

400 TJie Glories of Divine Grace. 

tian to embrace it with the same holy charity as the soul ? 
This is well understood by those enlightened souls who de 
vote themselves to the service of the poor and sick, with far 
greater zeal and more tender charity than mothers extend 
to their children ; those souls who joyfully offer their 
possessions, their labor, their health, and even their life, 
in order to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to nurse 
the sick. If they do not miraculously heal the sick and 
multiply the bread, as our Saviour did, they certainly work 
miracles of devotion, of self-sacrifice, of self-denial and 
charity, miracles which can proceed only from the wonder 
ful power of grace. 

This spirit of charity, which always lives in the Church 
of Christ, breathes with greater vigor and power in our 
own time, and the number of hearts which are seized and 
moved by it increases from day to day. Will you, Chris 
tian readers, also follow this impulse ? Will not you also 
renew within yourself the earthly life and works of our Di 
vine Saviour ? God calls you ; the grace of Christ presses 
you. Do but open the eyes of your soul and body. Your 
bodily eyes will exhibit to you the boundless misery which 
envelops and overwhelms so many of your fellow-men ; the 
eyes of your soul will perceive their great dignity which 
makes them deserving of your love and sympathy, and all 
the more deserving, the greater is their want and necessity. 
If this do not move you to console and assist them accord 
ing to your ability, then you are undeserving of the name 
of Christian, then you are no longer worthy of possessing 
grace ; for grace is love, and love inclines to mercy. 

Certainly you cannot expect God in future to be still 
bounteous in conferring His grace upon you. "Blessed 
are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 7 " Give, and 
it shall le given to you." The mercy and charity which 
we show others is so pleasing to God and so meritorious, 
that our Lord, in accounting on the day of judgment the 
works to be rewarded, will mention only those of mercy, 
and in the case of the reprobates will only assign the neg- 

Supernatural Love of our Neighbor. 401 

lect of these as the cause of their damnation. The same 
rule which God follows in the dispensation of eternal re 
ward, He also generally follows in the dispensation of 
grace. He will be liberal towards us in this dispensation, 
in proportion to our liberality towards our neighbor, and 
will be sparing therein in the measure in which we are 
ungenerous towards our neighbor. For we deny God what 
we deny our fellow-men, since they are the children, and 
members, and temple of God ; we give God what we give 
them, since He so accepts it as if we had given it to Him. 

But in order that God may thus accept our gifts, it is neces 
sary that we intend them for Him, that is, that we behold 
God in our neighbor, and serve our neighbor for the sake 
of God. If we give alms out of other motives, not directed 
to God, out of natural compassion and goodness, if we give 
them not in the spirit of faith, we then give to our neigh 
bor only and not to God, and He will not acknowledge 
them as given to Him, and will not reward us with the 
supernatural gifts of grace. 

Let us then be animated with the spirit of faith and Di 
vine charity, and let us dispense blessing and conso- 
ation wherever possible, and the blessing of Divine grace 
will attend our every step. 


The Exercise of Supernatural Humility and 


E have seen how the glories of grace are the 
ground and occasion of a supernatural union of 
charity with God and with our fellow-men. The 
world does not know this charity, because it springs from 
the Holy Ghost and not from nature ; because it is a heav 
enly and Divine thing, and, therefore, peculiar to the 
Christian order of grace. From this charity spring all 
the other holy acts and exercises which distinguish the life 
of the Christian from that of the ordinary man. At least, 
these actions must be in some manner connected with 
charity, which is the soul of all virtues ; and if they do not 
proceed from charity, they must at least lead to charity, or 
be directed in some manner to the same supernatural end 
to which charity unites us. 

We might now review all the different virtues and show 
how the Christian, in the state of grace, ought to practise 
them in a supernatural manner. But this is scarcely nec 
essary, if faith and charity are alive in us. If these are 
perfect in us, then we shall perfectly understand and prac 
tise all supernatural virtues ; but if we be possessed only 
of a lively faith, then our knowledge and practice of vir 
tue will be but imperfect. 

Indeed, he who has great charity does everything out of 
charity, and charity itself teaches him how to do it. If, 
then, we lovingly embrace God by an ardent, supernatural 
charity, this charity will be the motive and end of all 
our actions, and it will give these actions the highest 

Supernatural Humility and Chastity. 403 

supernatural value. This charity, which the Holy Ghost 
diffuses in our soul, is the unction of God, and St. John 
says of it : 1 " Let the unction which you have received from 
Hir.i, abide in you. And you have no need that any one 
teach you ; hut as His unction tcacheth you of all things." 
He who loves, knows what it is to love ; he knows also 
what it is to act out of love ; he bears within him the root 
of all supernatural virtues, and perceives the beauty of 
these heavenly blossoms intuitively in their innermost 
nature far better than words can express it. 

If, then, Christian soul, you are not yet aglow with love, 
and will nevertheless practise the supernatural virtues, 
there is no shorter and better way for you than to acquire 
love and to be inflamed by it ; otherwise you must behold 
them by faith, as it were, in the dim and far distance. 
But if it is too difficult for you to acquire in a short time 
this fervent lovo of God, then enliven at least your faith. 
Consider God, your neighbor, yourself, all your relations 
to -others, and all your duties, in the light of faith. Con 
sider God your Father by grace, your neighbor as your 
brother by grace, yourself as a child of God, a member of 
Christ and a temple of the Holy Ghost by grace. Then 
you will worship God, not with servile fear, but with child 
like reverence ; then you will honor your neighbor as your 
fellow-citizen in the kingdom of Heaven and a domestic of 
God ; then you will esteem yourself honorable and holy, 
not merely as a rational creature, but as a supernatural 
likeness of God, as a great and holy temple. Thus will all 
the rights that you must respect appear to you super- 
naturally hallowed with an additional claim to respect, and 
all duties will receive a new and holy sanction, which is 
communicated to all corresponding actions and gives them 
a supernatural character. 

Although, as we have stated, these general principles 
might suffice, nevertheless we will specially select two 
moral virtues, Christian humility and chastity, and by 
1 I. Jjhnii 27. 

404 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

means of these describe more in detail the character and 
spirit of the life of grace. These two virtues are also the 
rarest and most beautiful blossoms on the tree of Christian 
grace, and those that are least known and understood out 
side of the Christian world ; they are, more than all the 
others, closely connected with all the mysteries of grace 
and of supernatural charity. For, as grace elevates us un 
to God, so it disengages us from the proud selfishness of 
our spirit and the filth of the flesh ; and as by supernatural 
charity our soul is absorbed in God, and finds its sweetest 
pleasure in Him alone, so it learns its own value and the 
littleness of sensual indulgences also from charity. More 
over, these virtues render our self-love supernatural, and 
it is but meet that we should speak of the supernatural 
love of ourselves, after having spoken of the supernatural 
love of God and our neighbor. 

2. Humility, in its proper sense, is scarcely known by 
name outside of Christianity, and even among Christians 
its inestimable supernatural value is but little understood. 
It would even seem, at first glance, that Christian grace, 
by so infinitely elevating our nature, favored nothing less 
than the practice of humility. Yet the very reverse is 

If God so elevates us as to make us partakers of His own 
nature, lie does this out of pure condescension and gratui 
tous love, and not because of our merit, and we under 
stand this inability and lack of merit in our nature the 
more, the more we understand the glory and sublimity of 
grace. Just then will we perceive and acknowledge how 
little is the value of our nature in itself, how insignificant 
its natural perfections are, when compared with the count 
less gifts and perfections of grace which of itself it can 
not possess or even acquire ; how little it is like and equal 
in itself to the great God, and how unworthy of His love 
and pleasure. We are confounded at the condescending, 
gracious love of God, who deigns to descend so low to us, 
in order to raise us up unto Himself, and we exclaim with 

Supernatural Humility and Chastity. 405 

the pious Job : 1 " What is a man, that Thou shouldst mag 
nify Mm? or why dost Thou set Tliy heart upon him ?" 

Indeed, we may hold it to be a general rule, the more 
the creature is elevated by God, the more may and ought 
it "to despise itself. Who was greater and more favored 
with grace by God than the Mother of God ? And yet, 
who was at the same time more humble than she ? How 
is this possible ? Because she well knew that all her pre 
rogatives were gifts of God, that to Him was due all honor 
for them, and that she of herself did not deserve them. 
Therefore she chanted : " My soul doth magnify the 
Lord ; because lie hath regarded the humility of His hand 
maid ; for He that is mighty hath done great things to 
me." The higher she was elevated, the more she recog 
nized the infinite distance between her natural lowliness 
and the glories with which God overwhelmed her, and 
which she of herself could neither merit nor repay, and 
thus, as the Mother of God, she was the most humble of 
His servants. 

As the greatness of Divine grace ought especially to ex 
cite and foster humility and self-contempt, so God, on the 
other hand, requires no virtue as much as humility for 
dispensing His grace. Nothing qualifies us more to re 
ceive with respect and gratitude the gifts of God, than if 
we acknowledge our lack of merit and ability before God 
and give honor to Him alone. The deep conviction and 
sincere confession of our unworthiness and lack of all 
merit is the best merit and the highest degree of worthi 
ness possible for the reception of grace. If, then, as Chris 
tians we will render ourselves worthy of the supernatural 
grace of God, God first and most of all demands of us 
that we humble ourselves before Him and confess our low 
liness, and that we seek in grace, like the Mother of God, 
not so much our own, as His glorification. As Mary, 
when about to become the Mother of God, confessed her 
self His humble hand-maid, and accepted the proffered 

1 Job vii. 17. 

4o6 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

maternal dignity, not out of pride or ambition,, but in 
humble obedience and grateful submission to the gracious 
will of God, so must we accept in deepest humility the 
dignity of children of God which lie offers us. 

Moreover, grace so elevates us to God, that we recognize 
Him in the whole immeasurable depth of His gifts and 
love Him alone as the highest good for His own sake. But 
the more we know God, the more we ourselves disappear 
before the splendor of His glory as the mist before the 
splendor of the sun. The more we love Him, and by this 
love are immersed and transformed in Him, the more will 
we stifle and destroy selfishness and self-love in us and 
contemn ourselves, the more will we desire that God alone 
be loved and honored by ourselves and by others, that He 
be all in all. We will no longer think of seeking our own 
honor and greatness, but we will even earnestly desire to 
be despised and scorned if only God be honored and glori 
fied thereby. 

Again, the more we progress in the knowledge and love 
of God, the more shall we perceive how little our love, be 
it ever so supernatural and sublime, corresponds to the in 
finite greatness of God and His grace, and how little our 
gratitude for grace must always be ; and this will stim 
ulate our charity to desire a constant increase. We shall 
never boast of the virtues and good works that we pos 
sess, but rather despise ourselves, because we have loved 
God so little and profited so little by His grace. 

Far more, however, shall we despise ourselves, and de 
sire to be despised by others, if we have by sin offended 
that infinite and immensely liberal goodness of God. Had 
we offended God outside of the order of grace, when we 
were not so near Him and not so indebted to Him, this 
would suffice for us to humble ourselves beneath nothing 
ness and consider ourselves worthy of eternal contempt. 
But now we offended Him as our most loving Father ; we 
despised His tender love and trampled under foot His 
most precious gifts ; now we violated the seal of His own 

Supernatural Humility and Chastity. 407 

sanctity, which lie impressed upon us. Oh, what con 
tempt do we not now deserve ; what humiliation and neg 
lect is now so great, that we should not gladly take it up 
on ourselves ! And especially if we again embrace God 
with fervent supernatural love, will we not hate, despise, 
and detest ourselves as the offenders of God, in the same 
measure as we love God above all things ? In truth, if we 
had never committed mortal, but only venial sins, and even 
these only almost unconsciously, or if we had only neglected 
some inspirations of God, we should never more forget it 
and deeply detest it before God. 

When we consider all this, we cannot be surprised at 
seeing that the greatest saints and the most favored souls 
were also the most humble. They w r ho were so elevated 
above all creatures, humbled themselves beneath all. They 
esteemed their smallest failings and imperfections great 
and terrible, and therefore performed the severest penances 
in atonement for them, yea, they deemed themselves in 
truth far worse than the greatest sinners. They recognized 
the abundance of graces with which God overwhelmed 
them and believed that they had corresponded less zealously 
and gratefully than the sinners had corresponded to the 
graces given them. In the brightness of that light of 
faith which illumined their souls, and in the fervent char 
ity which consumed them, they noticed every mote, every 
small defect which still clung to them, and these defects 
appeared so terrible to them, that they did not notice the 
far more grievous faults of others and believed themselves 
worse than all other sinners. How much greater cause, 
then, have we, who have committed so many and such 
grievous sins, to humble ourselves before God and our fel 
low-men and to esteem all others more than ourselves ! 

3. Grace, then, is the source of a supernatural humility 
in us, since by revealing its supernatural glory it removes 
every pretext for taking pride in our nature and person, 
and since it humbles us the more, the more it elevates us. 
But as it, on the one hand, dispels all self-conceit and 

408 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

pride, so, on the other, it tends to destroy in us the esteem 
of human honor and vain ambition. 

In itself it is not an evil, but on the contrary, a positive 
good, to see the good qualities which we really possess rec 
ognized by men, and to be honored and esteemed for 
them. The desire for this honor, if it is not extravagant 
and misunderstood, is a noble inclination, given by God 
and sanctioned by reason ; it can even be of utility in the 
acquisition of virtue, provided only we esteem virtue more 
highly than the honor due it. Grace, however, secures us 
a supernatural dignity and the highest honor, not only 
from men, but from God Himself, from His holy angels, 
and from all the saints of Heaven. Compared with this, 
all honor that we can enjoy among men, and especially for 
natural good qualities, is vain and empty ; all such honor 
must be loathsome and detestable for us, and we ought to 
despise and contemn it, even if it were deserved and void 
of danger for us. Far more ought we, however, not only 
to despise it, but as much as possible avoid it, because be 
ing visible to us, it is apt to withdraw our mind from the 
esteem of the invisible Divine honor, secured us by grace, 
and places us in danger of losing it. 

If, then, we appreciate the glories of grace and are jeal 
ous of its possession, let us imitate the example of the 
saints, who, as the Psalmist says, would rather be the last 
in the house of God than the first in the world, and who 
trampled under foot crown and scepter to acquire and se 
cure the heavenly crown of grace. 

You must now acknowledge yourself, dear Christian 
reader, that Christian humility, insignificant though its 
name appear, is one of the highest and most sublime vir 
tues, a supernatural virtue, which can only proceed from 
grace. This is evident with respect to the contempt of 
human honors, because only a heart filled with the glories 
of grace and borne aloft by its power can elevate itself so 
far above the most noble attractions of this earth. Yet it 
is equally evident with regard to the contempt of self,, be- 

Supernatural Humility and Chastity. 409 

cause this presupposes an exceedingly high and living 
knowledge of the nothingness of our nature, when com 
pared to grace ; it presupposes a specially intimate love of 
God, which makes us, as it were, immerse our being and 
nature and forget it before His majesty. This very self- 
humiliation is the starting-point and aim of the highest 
flights of our soul, and humility alone is the truest and no 
blest magnanimity. 

4. Equally glorious and beautiful as the virtue of humil 
ity, and therefore equally an offspring and a fruit of grace, 
is Christian chastity. 

There is a natural chastity, a chastity which is a neces 
sary adornment of the natural man, i. e., of the man not 
elevated by grace above his nature. On the one hand, our 
soul is naturally already a spiritual being and an image of 
God, and therefore can never be carried away by the ani 
mal passions of the flesh without debasing itself. On the 
other hand, although our flesh is, in itself, similar to that 
of the animal, it has, nevertheless, by its substantial union 
with the rational soul, received a higher dignity, and 
therefore must no longer follow its own impulses and lusts, 
but be subjected to the guidance of the spirit and made 
subservient to higher, nobler ends. Man, then, must al 
ready, as man, for the sake of his human nature, preserve 
the natural nobleness of his soul and life pure and un 
spotted, and he will do this easily if, with the help of God, 
he keep his eye steadily fixed on the beauties of virtue and 
the other spiritual gifts, and esteem them higher than all 
lusts of the flesh. 

But what does grace, then, do for Christian super 
natural chastity ? Grace invests our soul and our body 
with an incomparably higher dignity than they both pos 
sess by nature. From the state of a mere creature, it raises 
our soul to that of a daughter, a friend and a spouse of 
God, and our body, which naturally is merely the dwelling 
of our soul, it dedicates as the living temple of the Holy 
Ghost, a temple in which the Holy Ghost is to dwell with 

4io The Glories of Divine Grace. 

the fulness of His Divinity, as the pledge of its future glory 
and immortality. 

Oh, what reverence and respect do we Christians then 
owe to our soul ! With what solicitude must we not pre 
serve this pure mirror of the Divinity from the smallest 
stain, to say nothing of the iilthy mire of sensual lust ! 
With how much zeal must we guard this daughter and 
spouse of the purest and holiest King, lest, forgetting its 
own dignity and that of its spouse, it dishonor itself and 
Him, and from the heights of Heaven cast itself down into 
the abyss of the lowest and meanest sensuality, too low 
and mean for its native dignity already ! 

And how holy and unspotted should we preserve our 
body, this temple of the Holy Ghost, this member of Christ, 
this bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh, this body 
which was so often nourished with the purest flesh and 
blood of the Son of God ! How great should be our solici 
tude to guard it against any contact with impurity and un- 
cleanness ! <e He that committeth fornication," says the 
Apostle, 1 (i sinnetli against Ids own tody." He sins 
against his body, because it is a dwelling of the rational 
immortal soul ; how much more will he sin against it, 
when by grace it has become a temple of the Holy Ghost. 
The Apostle, therefore, justly remarks that among Chris 
tians, unchastity must not even be mentioned ; so foreign 
must it be to them, so intimately connected is the virtue 
of chastity with Christianity and its grace. 

But Christian chastity is not satisfied with forbidding, 
from supernatural motives, all inordinate and perverse 
carnal desires and acts. The natural nobility of our soul 
and its natural union with God in nowise forbid carnal 
desire and indulgence in the state of matrimony, provided 
it be within the proper bounds, and in the proper manner, 
and provided we do not become its subjects and slaves. In 
the natural state nothing more would probably be expected 
of us. 

1 I. Cor. vi. 1 3. 

Supernatural Humility and Chastity. 41 1 

Neither does the supernatural dignity conferred on us by 
grace forbid this legitimate and orderly indulgence. It 
demands, however,, that a supernatural end and motive be 
kept in view, such as the propagation of the kingdom of 
God upon earth, or the personal protection against tempt 
ation. For this end Christian grace elevates matrimony 
even to the dignity of a holy sacrament,, which unites man 
and wife by a holy tie, and fosters even in them a super 
natural and Christian chastity. 

But if we vividly represent to ourselves this high, super 
natural dignity of grace, if we will be charmed by its 
splendor, and lead a life entirely worthy of it, then we 
are irresistibly attracted to renounce all, even lawful, 
carnal desire and indulgence. Then the thought will ever 
occur to us : how can it be proper that this noble and 
dignified soul, elevated above the angels, should be debased, 
even for a moment, to a carnal, though lawful, lust or 
gratification ? Is it becoming that I should surrender my 
body to another, after the Holy Ghost has consecrated and 
taken possession of it ? And if we are of those whom God 
has called to a higher perfection, we will feel a mighty im 
pulse to preserve body and soul perfectly pure in holy and 
beautiful virginity. Certainly that is not an obligation, 
because the holy use of matrimony dishonors neither soul 
nor body ; but it is a holy, self-evident, and urgent coun 
sel for those who feel themselves called, not only to pre 
serve soul and body from dishonor, but to preserve them in 
highest honor. 

5. Such a high chastity is above the capacity of the nat 
ural man, and when he beholds it in others, he necessarily 
admires it as something heavenly and Divine. But such 
heavenly virtues are precisely the peculiar fruits of grace, 
which not only raises man to a supernatural dignity and 
destiny, but gives him at the same time the power to live 
in accordance therewith. 

For grace is accompanied by supernatural love, which 
the Holy Ghost breathes into the soul, in order to carry 

412 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

it up from earth into the arms of its Divine Spouse. This 
holy and spiritual love disengages our soul from the fetters 
of sensuality and inclines it heavenward. This love, which 
finds its peace in God alone and binds us inseparably to 
Him,, expels all sensual love ; its bright, heavenly glow 
smothers the gloomy flame of concupiscence. It supports 
the Christian also in matrimony, maintains for him super 
iority over the flesh, and gives him power to sanctify his 
whole life. Where it burns and glows, there is no need of 
a law against unchastity, not even of a counsel of virginity. 
Where the soul is so mysteriously attracted by its heavenly 
Spouse, so bound by. His holy ties, so charmed and over 
come by His beauty, His sweetness and delight, then it is 
of itself estranged from the world and the flesh, then it 
scorns every carnal pleasure, despises every sensual indul 
gence, and desires only to adhere to its Divine Spouse in 
all its actions and sensations. The more the soul loves 
Him, the more will it possess Him alone, the more will it 
avoid every interference in this possession and enjoyment 
from contact and intercourse with earthly things, the more 
will it belong whole, entire, and exclusively to Him, and 
dedicate soul and body to His service. Love, then, teaches 
it to understand and practise that which, according to the 
words of our Saviour, not all can understand. Such a soul 
does not find the mortification of the flesh and its lust a 
hard sacrifice, an oppressive burden, but accounts it rather 
a holy joy, a natural consequence of its intimate union 
with Him who was made all for it, and in whom it re 
ceives again for its earthly losses a far better, purer, and 
more abundant gain. 

Thus Christian chastity, as well as Christian humility, 
is grounded in the mystery of grace. In this mystery both 
virtues have their foundation and their law ; from it they 
draw their vitality, and their relation to this mystery is 
similar to their relation to the Divine maternity in the case 
of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Humility and virginal chastity were the principal and 

Supernatural Humility and Chastity. 413 

most peculiar virtues of the Mother of God. These vir 
tues were a necessary preparation for her sublime mater 
nity, as they were in turn nourished and fostered by this ma 
ternity. The Blessed Virgin, now, is the arch-type of the 
children of God ; as these resemble her in her supernatural 
dignity, so must they resemble her in those supernatural 
virtues ; and as Mary was incited to the practice of these 
virtues by her exalted vocation, so ought we to bo animated 
to the same practice by the recollection of our high 

As these virtues were never perfectly practised on earth 
before the Mother of God, so they flourished after her, 
only where, by faith in Christ, the mystery of grace was 
known and glorified. Where grace is neglected or ignored, 
then these virtues will decline and be lost. Only where 
grace is appreciated in all its glory, will these virtues be 
understood, valued, and fervently practised. 

If, then, Christian reader, yon will acquire and cherish 
these virtues, you can do nothing better than to consider 
attentively the glories of grace, which causes such resem 
blance and affinity between you and the Mother of God, 
and by this consideration to be inflamed with a holy love 
and admiration for grace. And, on the other hand, if you 
will conform your life to the high dignity of the state of 
grace, then practise, besides the supernatural love of God 
and your neighbor, especially Christian humility and chas 
tity, or rather, practise by Christian humility and chastity 
super natu ml self-love . 

With regard to the love of onrself, we have received no 
particular law, because we naturally already love ourselves. 
We are, therefore, only required to keep this love within 
due bounds, lest it clash with the love of God and our 
neighbor, and then also to hallow it by the love of God, so 
that we no longer love ourselves, but God, or at least love 
ourselves in and for God alone. 

But if we will know exactly how natural self-love is made 
supernatural, the answer is : by loving ourselves, not ac- 

414 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

cording to our natural goodness, but according to what we 
have become by grace, and by desiring for ourselves not 
natural but supernatural gifts. For we love even God and 
our neighbor supernaturally, only when we consider in God 
ho .v He has become by grace our Father, our Friend, our 
Spouse, and the object of our supernatural happiness, and 
when we consider in our neighbor what grace has made 
him for himself, for God, and for us, a supernatural like 
ness of the Divine nature, a child of God, and our brother 
in Christ. 

If, then, we love ourselves also according to grace, we 
must deeply scorn and despise all that we possess and may 
acquire outside of grace. We must be solicitous, above all 
thing3, to preserve pure and unstained the heavenly splen 
dor of grace in us. And all this is secured by Christian 
humility and chastity. 

Although these two virtues, at first appearance, seem to 
indicate only mortification and renunciation of self-love, 
they are in reality nothing less than the most beautiful and 
sublime expression of the purest and most perfect super 
natural self-love, and nothing is more true than the state 
ment that only the humble and chaste man loves himself 
truly and perfectly. 

The whole supernatural law of grace, then, is expressed 
in the threefold command to love God, our neighbor, and 
ourself, according to grace. But since grace, the splendor 
of the Divine nature and the bond of union with God, can 
be loved perfectly in God only, that threefold command is 
resolved into the one command, to love God as the source 
and the end of grace. This love of God is itself the first 
and highest law of grace. 

Let us, then, love God, our neighbor, and ourself in grace. 
Love is life, supernatural love is supernatural life, love ac 
cording to grace and because of grace is the life of grace. 
All else will then come of itself. Then we are truly Chris 
tians, then we honor our name, and we may in turn ac 
count this name an honor. 

Supernatural Humility and Chastity. 4 1 5 

7. Before we close this chapter, it will not be superflu 
ous to observe how the doctrine of grace is the foundation 
of the three Evangelical Counsels. Since their observance 
is partly a means for attaining to the highest perfection, 
and partly a fruit of such perfection, they must evidently 
have a common foundation in grace. This was already 
shown with reference to virginal chastity. Voluntary obe 
dience to men for the sake of God has its root in Christian 
Humility. This virtue of humility causes us to debase 
ourselves completely, to subject ourselves even to man, to 
follow our own will in nothing, but God s will in everything, 
to be directed by God through the will of others, who are 
His vicegerents. Evangelical poverty consists only in con 
temning and renouncing the external means which may 
serve to gratify our ambition, our pride, and our sensual 
lust. The same foundation, therefore, which supports 
obedience and chastity, must also support poverty. For 
those, however, who are inclined to love the external goods 
for their own sake and for the sake of possessing them, 
grace again reveals the splendid and glorious dignity of the 
children of God, for whom these goods are altogether too 
base and unworthy. Grace exhibits to them the abundant 
wealth of heavenly riches, which it bears in its bosom, so 
that they are easily induced to despise and tread under foot 
the whole world, with all its treasures and riches. 

The children of God should be free ; free from all servile 
bonds, free, if possible, also from all those line cords which 
fasten them to the world or even entangle them in it to 
some extent, and which may be a hindrance to their free in 
tercourse with their heavenly Father, a hindrance to their 
life in God, of God, and for God. Th erefore, they who 
are called to be perfect children of God, receive from Him 
the wise inspiration perfectly to renounce their own will, 
their temporal possessions, their sensual enjoyments, and 
they are by His grace so estranged from the world, that they 
find no peace until they have bidden farewell to it. 

Faith, the Food of the Life of Grace. 


jS grace is the marrow of supernatural Christian 
life, and love its pulsation, so is Divine faith its 
food. " My just one livetJi by faith," says God 
in Holy Writ. 1 The just of God, that is, those just who are 
truly pleasing to God and adorned with Divine sanctity, as 
we are by grace, live in charity, but by faith. Charity 
presupposes faith, proceeds from it, and is animated by it. 
As in justification faith prepares the way for charity, so in 
the state of justice it is essentially necessary to and 
must always feed charity. Faith without charity can bring 
no fruit and is called dead ; but charity without faith has 
no root, and is not only dead, but is nothing. For we can 
not love anything without knowledge of the thing, and we 
cannot have supernatural love without supernatural knowl 
edge. This supernatural knowledge and intelligence is 

Faith performs a twofold function in supernatural life. 
In the first place, faith must point out to us the end, the 
rule, and the law for our actions; and again, it must reveal 
to us the truths, introduce them into our soul, and bring 
home to us, as it were, the good which we love and by the 
love of which we must carry out that law. In the first re 
lation it is rather a light than a food of our soul, a light 
which shows us the way ; in the other relation, however, 
faith is a food, a wine, which animates the soul to walk in 
this way, a bread, which renders it strong and valiant to 
actively continue and finish its course. Or rather, it is in 

1 Heb. x. 38. 

Faith, the Food of the Life of Grace. 41 7 

this relation a light also, since the spiritual soul does not 
live by bodily food, but by the light of truth, which it re 
ceives by intellectual cognition. As the corporeal light fills 
the eye with the images of external objects and then only 
the vital activity of the eye inclines towards these objects 
to behold them, so is our soul nourished by the light, 
which furnishes it with the images of the spiritual and su 
pernatural good, and can, in consequence of this nourish 
ment, only develop its vital activity to unite in turn our 
soul with these goods. 

If, now, the life of charity in our soul must be a super 
natural life, then the light, which feeds this love of charity, 
must be the Divine light of faith. As this charity alone 
must be our life, so must this faith alone be our food. As 
the blessed in Heaven live by the immediate vision and the 
full possession of the highest eternal truths, so may the 
children of God on earth derive their food only from faith 
in the same God and the same truths. This faith is the 
dawn of heavenly vision and takes its place ; and this 
nourishment alone is suited to their dignity and their 
heavenly life. 

Must we not, then, seek this nourishment with the same 
love and desire with which we embrace the life of grace, 
the beginning and the introduction to eternal life ? If 
you saw a man unwilling to take any food for the suste 
nance of his bodily life, would you not conclude that he 
despised this life, and desired rather to die than to live ? 
What opinion, then, must you have of yourself, if you de 
spised or sparingly used the food of faith, which is equally 
necessary for your supernatural life ? Would this not be 
evidence that you esteemed this precious life but little, and 
loved it less than your bodily life, for the nourishment and 
maintenance of which you are incessantly active ? 

But what must be God s judgment of you, who so lov 
ingly and carefully prepares this food for you and offers it 
to you in order to sustain in you the life of His children ? 
He will call you to account, as He once called the priests 

41 8 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

of the Old Law to account, through the Prophet Mala- 
chias : 1 f{ The son honor cth the father ...If, then, I be a 
Father, where is my honor, saith the Lord of hosts. To you, 
priests, that despise my name, and have said: Wherein 
have we despised Thy name 9 In that you say : the fable of 
the Lord is contemptible." Saints Cyril and Jerome well 
observe on this passage that these priests had not really used 
such impious expression ; bat their lives and actions were 
of such a nature as to indicate such interior godless opin 
ion. You also, my dear Christian, do not probably dare 
impiously to express formal contempt for the table of the 
Lord, the bread of His faith. But you do this actually 
by your deeds, when you neglect this faith, rarely eliciting 
acts of faith, when you do not apply your faith, when you 
do not derive your food from it, but feed upon poisoned 
bread, i. e., when you conform more to the respect of the 
world, the flesh, and the devil, than to the respect of God 
and the example of Jesus Christ. God will then likewise 
call you to account for having despised His table and His 
bread, and He will deliver you unto eternal death, a death 
which you bring upon yourself by preferring the food of 
death to the bread of life. 

2. Indeed, every other food but the food of faith causes 
death to the soul. I do not mean that you can esteem 
and consider no other goods but those which faith proposes. 
But faith must always accompany these goods, it must 
place them into higher relations, into connection with su 
pernatural things, it must season them, lest they cause 
corruption in you, that is, lest they attract your heart too 
much and withdraw it from the love of God. But if you 
are too much carried away by these goods, too much absorbed 
by them, if you consider them in the light of the world, 
the devil, and the flesh, as sources of perfect happiness 
in a word, if they cause you to forget the nourishment of 
faith, then they are a deadly poison for you, which gives 
birth to sin and through sin to death. 

1 Malach. i. 6, 7. 

Faith, the Food of the Life of Grace. 419 

As truth is the food of the soul, so is falsehood its poison. 
But you will imbibe poison whenever you do not drink of 
the fountain of all truth, of eternal truth by faith, or 
whenever your reason does not agree with faith. Keason, 
too, is a source of truth, and who would deny that its light, 
when it is pure and unadulterated., enlightens and nour 
ishes the soul ? But it does not nourish the soul unto 
eternal life ; it is, moreover, but a small fountain of truth, 
a branch of the Divine fountain, and its waters easily 
become turbid. Now, who will draw water from a turbid 
stream, when he may draw much purer and better water 
from the original fountain ? Why, then, should we feed 
our soul with the light of reason, when by faith we may 
draw immediately from the light of eternal Divine truth, 
and are secure against imbibing any falsehood or error ? 

How much less should we drink of those pools of foul, 
pestilential water that contain error and falsehood ? How 
can we nourish our soul with those principles that are 
instilled into us under the name of reason by the enemies 
of all reason and truth, by the world, the flesh, and the 
devil ? The flesh lies, when it goes counter to the spirit ; 
the world lies, when it contradicts the message of grace ; 
the devil is the liar from the beginning, the father of lies 
and of darkness, as God is the Father of light and truth. 
He who believes those three, feeds only upon falsehood, 
imbibes only poison, corrupts the natural as well as the 
supernatural life of his soul, and deserves no excuse or 
pity, since the fountain of purest and sublimest truth was 
open to him in faith. He is most justly assailed by the re 
buke of God : "My people have done two evils. They have 
forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and have digged 
to themselves cisterns, IroJcen cisterns, that can hold no 
ivater" God and the soul devoted to Him can alone 
contain the water of truth ; everything that is separated 
from God is divided in itself ; truth withdraws from man, 
if God withdraws, and the filth of falsehood alone remains. 
1 Jer. ii. 13. 

420 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

3. If, then, Christian reader, you will feed your soul 
with truth, remain firm in your Divine faith, in your in 
fallible faith. Then no falsehood will enter your soul, 
because all falsehood will be banished by faith. Faith 
will teach you to discern the true and eternal good from 
the false and apparent good, with, a Divine, infallible cer 
tainty. Faith will reveal to you the sweetest and most 
precious fruit, concealed in a rough and unseemly hull, as 
well as the secret rottenness and covert poison, concealed 
by a shining exterior. 

When the watchmen in the night time pace the streets 
of a city and meet a person whose identity they cannot 
readily establish, they raise the lantern, which they 
hitherto carried concealed, to his face, and then often 
recognize a noble and righteous man, whom they supposed 
to be a vagrant and reveller, and one whom they judged 
from appearance to be respectable, they often find to be 
a mean drunkard. We also journey through the night of 
this life, carrying faith as a lantern in our bosom. As 
long as we do not apply this light, the things of this world, 
honors, riches, and pleasures, appear to us exceeding lovely 
and full of happiness ; virtue, however, from its rough ex 
terior, its mortification and self-denial, and the poverty, 
humility, and sufferings of Christ, appear as insufferable 
evils. But as soon as we consider these things with the 
bright lamp of faith in their true light, we see clearly and 
plainly how rich Jesus is in His poverty, how sweet and 
happy in His suffering, how glorious in His humiliation, 
and, on the other hand, how the deceptive mask of the 
world only conceals so many dangers and sufferings, so 
much misery and ruin. 

If, then, the charms of human honors, earthly riches, and 
sensual pleasures attract and fascinate j : ou, produce from 
your soul the lamp of faith and hold it up to all these 
things ; consider them, examine them, penetrate to the 
bottom of them ; and you will judge them as one who be 
longs to Heaven and has come down upon earth ; you will 

Faith, the Food of the Life of Grace. 421 

view them very differently from other men, and discover in 
them soap-bubbles, turbid and filthy water, if not a danger 
ous and deadly poison. 

Conversely, as children are at first frightened by a mask, 
but forget all fear and laugh with joy when they withdraw 
the mask and recognize a playmate, so we are frightened 
by the mask of difficulty and sadness with which our self- 
love and sensual inclination surround Christian virtue. Let 
us, with the hand of faith, boldly withdraw the mask, and 
beneath all these terrors we shall recognize a lovely 
daughter of Heaven, well known and welcome to the noblest 
sense of our soul, whose beauty and grace can only delight 
us and make us happy, but do us no harm. 

As long, however, as we do not draw the terrifying mask 
from the true and genuine good, and the mask of deceptive 
beauty from the false and apparent good, so long we live, 
though waking, in an uninterrupted dream. In dreams 
the images of good and bad things impress themselves up 
on our soul, contrary to the judgment of our reason, as 
true and real, and they thus delight or alarm us. In like 
manner, when the light of faith is dormant in us, we are 
carried away by our imagination and by the attractions of 
visible things, until we suddenly awake, and all these im 
ages disappear at once. 

Then our hands contain nothing but an empty soap- 
bubble ; the whole splendor of our cherished and adored 
happiness, the pleasant witchery that enchanted us, the 
phantasms that lulled us asleep, vanish in the air. Faith 
alone can always keep us awake, so that no dreamy vision 
may deceive and mislead us ; it alone preserves from cruel 
disappointment, and what is more, from despair and eternal 
misery, which will certainly be our lot, if we notice our de 
ception too late, and have no time left to acquire true and 
eternal happiness. 

4. Without the food and medicine of faith we do not 
only dream, we are sick ; sick from our perverse inclina 
tions, our passions, our evil habits, which disturb the or- 

422 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

gans of the soul, its sight and taste, apprehend all objects 
after their own perverse manner, and thus vitiate the 
judgment of reason. As the eye is so influenced by the 
diseased bile as to see all things either with black or white 
color ; as a coated tongue finds everything sweet, or bitter, 
or sour, according to the nature of the different diseases, so 
the avaricious man esteems his money, the voluptuous man 
his sensual lust, the ambitious man earthly honors as his 
highest good, as his god, and devotes and gives himself up 
to it. The devil, too, is not idle, but like a skilful painter 
he paints the images with such lifelike colors, that they 
seem to live and breathe, and like a clever cook he seasons 
the sweetmeats so as to make them still more sweet and 
delicious. Thus, tf Man posset h as an image;" 1 thus, 
" The bewitching of vanity obscureth good things ; " z thus, 
"Every man is a liar ; " 3 thus, "The sons of men are 
liars in the balances ; " 4 because they balance all heavenly 
and eternal goods with the smallest earthly honor and 

Faith, however, exposes the sickness of our soul and 
thereby heals it ; it demonstrates to us that sensuality 
and ambition do not estimate things according to their 
true objective value, but according to their own subjective 
pleasure ; faith thus prevents our judgment from being 
misled by their suggestions. Faith represents all things, 
not in their appearance, but in their essence ; faith de 
termines their true value without falsehood and deception, 
and throws light upon them on all sides ; faith dispels the 
dream, tears off the mask, washes off the stain and var 
nish ; it gives the dimmed, blinded, and near-sighted eye 
of the soul its natural, healthy vigor, and restores to its 
coated and vitiated palate the true taste. Let us, there 
fore, have recourse to faith, with its ointment let us anoint 
our eyes, as the angel once anointed the eyes of Tobias with 
the gall of the fish. Let us preserve and cherish this faith, 
which is itself the true food of our soul, and at the same 

1 Ps. xxxviii. 7. 2 Wis. iv. 1?. 3 Ps. cxv. 2. 4 Ibid. Ixi. 10. 

Faitk, the Food of the Life of Grace. 423 

time enables us to find all the other true nourishment of 
onr soul, which nourishes us, in order to heal us, and heals 
us, in order to nourish us. Let us confide alone in this 
faith, so that we may say with the Apostle : * " And that 1 
live now in the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of 
God, who loved me, and delivered Himself for me." 

And Thou, true and original Light of the world, Light 
of Light, my God, my Teacher, and Saviour, " enlighten 
my eyes, that I never sleep in death " ! * Nourish and 
strengthen me with Thy light, " lest at any time my ene 
my say : I have prevailed against him." 

i Gal. ii. 20. 2 Ps. xii, 4, 3 Ibid. 5. 


The Continual Progress we must make in the 
Supernatural Life of Grace, and the Facility 
of such Progress. 


jF our life is to be worthy of God and His grace, it 
is not sufficient that we acquire grace and live 
conformably to it ; we must likewise endeavor al 
ways to promote and increase the life of grace in us, accord 
ing to the desire of the Apostle, who prays l " that we may 
walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing : being fruitful in 
every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, 
strengthened with all might, according to the power of His 

All life in this world naturally tends to develop itself and 
become ever more perfect, and the absence or ineifectualness 
of this tendency is a certain indication that the life is 
spent, its power is broken, its resources exhausted, and that 
death has already devoured its marrow. The source of the 
supernatural life of grace, however, cannot, as we all know, 
become exhausted ; the blossom of grace, which has its root 
in the bosom of God Himself, can never decay for want of 
nourishment ; this splendor of the Divine nature can never 
cease to grow, until it has passed from the vicissitudes of 
time into the quiet of eternity. We should, then, be very 
ignorant of its glory or do it great injustice, if we did not 
improve its inexhaustible fertility and make every possible 
endeavor to contribute towards its development. We 
should, notwithstanding the grand vital power within us, 
appear more dead than alive, if we permitted it to lie dor- 

Continual Progress in the Life of Grace. 425 

mant, as the grain of seed in the earth, and did not let it 
grow up into a mighty tree ! 

No, grace can and must grow, as the grain of mustard- 
seed in the Gospel, for, like this, it contains an abundance 
of vitality and power, though it appears small and insig 
nificant. It must grow from moment to moment, from 
glory to glory, as the dawn of morning grows unto the break 
of day and the light of day unto the noonday sun. " The 
patlioftliejust," says the Wise Man, " as a shining light, 
goeth forwards and increaseth even to perfect day." We 
must grow as members of the mystical body of Christ, un 
til we are strong and perfect, or, as the Apostle says, 2 "un 
til we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knoivl- 
edge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the meas 
ure of the age of the fulness of Christ." 

2. But in what manner are we to progress in grace and 
the life of grace ? You think, perhaps, Christian reader, 
in the same manner and by the same means as we pro 
gress in natural virtue or in the acquisition of science, with 
this difference only, that we there apply the natural faculties 
of intellect and will, but here the already acquired super 
natural faculties of grace. Yet this is only partly correct. 
If we will qualify the intellect for a more perfect and quick 
intelligence, the will for a more firm and decided tendency 
towards good, we only need call into action the dor 
mant faculties in the soul, and by practice develop and 
strengthen them, as has been explained before. Grace, 
however, and the supernatural virtues, we can increase di 
rectly by our own activity as little as we can by our own 
activity produce them. It is true, that the acts which we 
perform in the state of grace are supernatural acts, and far 
more virtuous than natural acts, and acts performed out 
side the state of grace ; those acts, therefore, naturally con 
tribute to facilitate the exercise of supernatural virtue. 
But this facility of exercise is only an extrinsic and acci 
dental, not an intrinsic and essential increase of supernatur- 

1 Prov. iv. 18. 2 Eph. Iv. 13. 

426 77/6* Glories of Divine Grace. 

al virtues. This intrinsic increase consists in the greater 
fruitfulness which the soul acquires, and in the greater 
merit and value which the acts enjoy. This increase, then, 
takes place only when God raises us to a higher degree of 
grace, as lie has before raised us to the first degree of grace 
and of supernatural virtue ; when He now glorifies our 
soul in a higher measure, as He before glorified it to a cer 
tain extent by the first rays of His light ; when, finally, He 
now infuses a larger measure, of supernatural vitality into 
our soul, as He before infused its first degree. 

God alone is the immediate and efficient cause of the 
increase of grace and the life of grace in us ; of Him alone 
must we expect it, of Him alone ask it. But since He has 
deposited the treasures of His grace in the holy sacraments, 
we can do nothing better than to receive these very fre 
quently and with the best possible disposition. In the holy 
sacraments we have the stream of grace, rising in the 
Sacred Heart of the Son of God, and flowing to us in inex 
haustible abundance. We need only approach the stream 
and draw from it, to be filled with new grace and new super 
natural vitality. "We receive, however, according to our 
disposition. The more ardent our desire is, the more the 
vessel of our heart is dilated by a firm hope ; the more it is 
rendered susceptible for the precious balsam of grace by hat 
red of sin and purity of sentiment, the more we shall obtain. 

Above all other sacraments, however, ranks Holy Com 
munion, which has been specially and expressly instituted 
to increase in us grace and the life of grace. The other sac 
raments are channels of grace ; this sacrament contains the 
fountain of grace itself in all its abundance. In it we eat 
the bread of life, which contains the fulness of the Divinity, 
and drink the same blood which vivified the humanity of 
the Son of God. As often as we receive it we are more closely 
united to Christ, as branches to the heavenly vine, and grace, 
the Divine sap of this vine, is ever more diffused in us for 
the increase and nourishment of supernatural life. 

If, then, dear Christian, you have at heart the increase 

Continual Progress in the Life of Grace. 427 

of grace, be nourished and strengthened very often with 
this heavenly food ; hasten to your Saviour and with ar 
dent desire and a lively faith beg of Him His daily bread ; 
ask of Him, with the Samaritan woman, the living water, 
which springs up unto eternal life. 

3. "But/ you will interpose, "may I not, by my own 
works, by the practice of supernatural virtues, myself in 
crease these virtues and grace ? " In a certain manner 
you may. Though yon cannot of your own power raise 
yourself to a higher degree of grace, and by your own ac 
tivity cannot increase the measure of grace and virtue 
which you already possess, you may, by your good works, 
merit and obtain of God that lie may increase and 
augment His grace in you ; and in as far as you induce 
God thereto by your merit, you may consider yourself the 
cause of the increase of grace. The efficacy of your 
supernatural good works lies in their value and merit, 
and by this merit they co-operate in the increase of grace, 
as in the acquisition of heavenly glory. Therefore, the 
Holy Council of Trent condemns all those who say, "that 
the justified, by the good works which he performs, does 
not truly merit increase of grace and eternal life," 1 
and consequently those also who say, " that the good 
works are merely the fruits and signs of justification, but 
not a cause of the increase thereof." 2 

And indeed, precisely because the good works arc fruits 
of grace, they are not merely signs of the existing grace, 
not only give us a claim to a heavenly reward, but a claim 
also to a higher degree of grace. For by using the grace 
which we already possess, and letting it bear fruit, we are 
made ever more pleasing and acceptable to God, and that 
in the same measure in which we co-operate faithfully and 
zealously with grace and produce good and beautiful 
fruit. And since this pleasure cannot remain without 
fruit, He will, for every good work, infuse a higher degree 
of grace and raise us to a higher condition of virtue. 

1 Sess. vi. de justif., can. 32. 2 Ibid., can. 24. 

428 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

The branch, of a tree receives new sap from the trunk 
only in the proportion in which it has employed that already 
received in the production of blossom and fruit. In like 
manner,, God, who is the root of our supernatural life of 
grace, infuses new power of grace into us, in the propor 
tion only in which we have let the previous power develop 
into the blossom and fruit of good works. There is this 
difference, however., between the two cases, that the branch 
of the tree consumes its power by using it, whilst the soul 
retains and increases it, and consequently grows greater 
and stronger by the new influx of vital power. 

The plant is exhausted in producing its fruit ; the soul, 
however, in the state of grace feeds and grows by its fruit, 
or rather, it nourishes itself, in delighting and pleasing God 
by these fruits. Its good works are beautiful blossoms, 
which delight the eye of God, and delicious fruits, which 
refresh His paternal heart, whence the spouse in the Can 
ticle of Canticles sings: 1 " Let my Moved come into His 
garden, and eat the fruit of His apple trees" If we delight 
the eye of God and comfort His heart by our good works, 
then new light must stream again upon us from His eye, 
and new life from His heart. The preciousness of our 
good works sends a sweet fragrance to Heaven, which de 
scends again upon our soul from the bosom of God, as a 
fruitful shower of grace, and increases its treasure of grace 
in the same proportion in which it bore fruit. 

Is not such a co-operation on your part in the increase 
of grace and of supernatural virtue almost as wonderful 
as if you yourself produced grace ? At all events, is not 
its power far more wonderful than that of your natural 
endeavor and labor to acquire facility in the practice of 
good and the knowledge of truth ? For here you not only 
acquire a facility in the exercise of a faculty, but a new, 
higher, and greater faculty ; and what is more, by every 
act of every single supernatural virtue you acquire an in 
crease, not only of this particular virtue, but of all other 
virtues likewise. 

Cant, of Cant. v. 1. 

Continual Progress in the Life of Grace. 429 

4. This is a very beautiful and well substantiated teaching 
of the greatest theologians. 1 In the natural order the 
practice of an individual virtue effects an increase of this 
virtue only. If one,, for instance, exercises himself in fast 
ing and has rendered fasting easy to himself, he has not 
thereby yet acquired a facility in being liberal to the poor, 
in justice, in bridling his tongue, etc., because these virtues 
are of a different species. By the acts of supernatural 
virtue, however, we acquire, in the first place, an increase 
of sanctifying grace ; but since sanctifying grace is the 
root of all supernatural virtues, and feeds all equally 
with supernatural vital force, it must be attended by an in 
crease of all the other virtues likewise. If you, then, being 
in the state of grace, practise mortification, you not only 
strengthen and nourish the virtues of temperance and ab 
stinence, but also those of love of God and your neighbor, 
of mercy, of holy silence, etc. ; and when in future you 
perform an act of these virtues, that act will be more per 
fect, valuable, and pleasing to God, than if you had omitted 
the first act of mortification. 

It is, of course, self-evident, that this increase in grace 
and all virtues is greater and quicker in proportion to the 
dignity and value of the virtue and to the zeal and effort 
in placing the act. Since the love of God is the most 
noble and precious of all virtues, the increase of grace 
must depend chiefly upon it. The life of grace con 
sists principally in this love, which may be called its bar 
ometer ; for in the same measure in which we love God, 
we are loved again by Him and filled with His grace. 
Love is, moreover, the mother, the root, and the perfec 
tion of all other virtues. It is the mother, because it pro 
duces all the other virtues in the soul ; the root, because it 
feeds, vivifies, and actuates all ; the perfection, because it 
directs all to the highest end and gives them their final 
sanction. The growth of love must therefore, in an especial 
manner, promote the growth of grace and of all supernatur- 

1 Suarez, de gratia, 1. 9, c. 4. 

430 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

al virtues,, and is evidently the shortest and surest way 
to find and acquire the greatest wealth of grace and virtue. 

The greater and speedier increase in grace, however, 
depends, as already stated, not only upon the noble quality 
of its fruits of virtue, but also upon their number and 
greatness, that is, upon the frequency of our performing 
acts of supernatural virtue and especially of love, and up 
on the greatest possible exertion and zeal in performing 
them. The greater our zeal is in the practice of virtue, 
the greater and more numerous will be the fruits produced 
from grace, and the more will grace itself be nourished and 

This will be the case, especially, when we apply our zeal 
to the noblest virtue, to acts of love, and endeavor to make 
them as frequent and perfect as possible. 

Fortunately, the practice of no other virtue is so easy 
and agreeable as that of love. For the practice of other 
virtues we often want the necessary means and opportuni 
ties. Thus, vre cannot always practise a high degree of 
patience, because we have not always to endure great suf 
fering; not all persons can practise rigorous fasts, or give 
large alms. But vre are always able to love, to love fervently 
and to love ever more. Love requires no great labor or 
effort; for love is purest sweetness and heavenly delight, so 
pleasant and agreeable that it makes us forget all trouble 
.and bitterness which the practice of other virtues may 
cause us. 

5. See, then, Christian soul, what wonderful power and 
fruitf ulness God has granted you, that you may incessantly 
and infinitely increase in His grace and in all virtues! And 
should you leave it unimproved? Should you sit idle and 
not labor with the greatest zeal to build up this temple of 
God within you? You might pretend some excuse, if the 
increase of grace cost an immense labor and trouble, if 
you were obliged to storm Heaven in order to secure it; 
though even then you ought to shun no sacrifice to obtain 
so great a good. But when I point out a way to you 

Continual Progress in the Life of Grace. 431 

which is very easy, without any steep ascent, without thorns, 
almost without any difficulty, a way that you need only 
enter upon with the foot of a good will, then, certainly, you 
are no longer excusable. 

In the first place, you may secure a continual increase in 
grace, simply by offering up to God your daily actions, even 
the most trifling and insignificant, and sanctifying them 
in the spirit of grace by a holy intention. For this end 
you need perform no extraordinary, great, and difficult 
works, if you only perform your ordinary labors in a good 
and holy manner. Not only by fasting or almsgiving, but 
by eating, by recreation, by repose, you are made more 
pleasing and acceptable to God, and you increase in grace, 
provided you offer up these actions to God. 

This will be the case still more, if in your actions you 
form not only one good intention, but several; for thus 
you practise at the same time several virtues and acquire a 
twofold and threefold merit. Thus you may offer up your 
daily prayers to God for His glory, in thanksgiving for His 
benefits, for the conversion of sinners, for the relief of the 
poor, and you will practise at the same time the reverence 
and gratitude due to God, and the works of corporal and 
spiritual mercy. You may likewise labor with the inten 
tion of supporting your family and the poor, of doing pen 
ance for your sins and of suffering for the love of God, and 
thus practise at the same time the virtues of parental and 
filial love, of mercy, of penance, and of love of God. In 
this manner will each of your good actions prove a branch 
of the tree of grace laden with divers fruit, which is of 
fered to God and in turn draws down upon you streams of 
Divine grace. 

But not only those actions obtain for us an increase of 
grace which we really perform, but those also which we de 
sire to perform, though we are unable to do so. You say 
you cannot fast, you cannot chastise yourself, you cannot 
give alms. But God does not require impossibilities of 
you. Who will, however, prevent you from entertaining 

43 2 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

at least an ardent desire to perform these good works ? 
God considers the heart, not the hand, the good will, not 
the work, the interior, not the exterior, and grace is an 
interior and spiritual good, which we must acquire by 
interior and spiritual acts. Before God the act is done, 
when the desire to perform the act has been elicited by 
the will. 

As the sinful will displeases God and deprives us of His 
grace, even if it be not carried out, so the virtuous will 
alone already renders us pleasing to God, and obtains grace 
for us, even if it cannot be carried out in the external act. 

Yet, what am I saying ? Not only the desire for new 
works renders you more acceptable to God, but also the 
joy and pleasure which you take in all the good works 
that have been performed by yourself or by others, or that are 
still performed for the glory of God. If you had com 
mitted an evil act, for instance, an act of revenge, and 
would afterwards rejoice at that act, you would com 
mit a new sin and again lose the grace of God, if you had 
regained it after that act. Must it not, then, make you 
more acceptable to God, if you rejoiced in having per 
formed some good act, provided this joy were rooted in the 
love of God, and not in vain self-complacence ? 

In like manner, if you rejoiced at the sinful deed of an 
other, you would become accessory to his sin, and with him 
incur the displeasure of God. May you not equally rejoice 
at all the good works performed in the w r orld, at the mis 
sionary labors of apostolic men, at the holy zeal of so many 
priests, the self-sacrifice of religious persons in instruction, 
in nursing the sick and in penance for their fellow-men, and 
will you not deserve the pleasure of God and an increase of 
grace by this approbation of good works, and by the joy 
at seeing God thus glorified ? 

And this will be more abundantly so, if you, not content 
with this joy, repeat your former good actions and endeav 
or to perform others. If you have before offered yourself 
to God with all your thoughts and desires, offer yourself 

Continual Progress in the Life of Grace. 433 

again, renew your good intentions, your promises, your 
vows, and you will as often grow in grace. God does not, 
like man, reject the gift when offered a second time ; for 
He does not consider so much the gift as the perseverance 
and constancy of the will in the offering and in His service. 
It is His greatest delight to receive again and again the 
gifts already offered Him, and He accepts them each time, 
as if they had never before been presented to Him. 

Neither does He demand that we offer none but our 
own gifts; He accepts the good works of others in our 
name, if we unite ourselves with them and offer up their 
holy actions with the desire to perform the same works for 
His glory and, that being impossible, to glorify Him be 
comingly, at least by offering these works. Thus you may 
offer up to God all the good works which have been per 
formed from the beginning of the world, not only by the 
saints, the apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins, not 
only by the angels, but also by the Blessed Virgin Mary and 
by Jesus Christ Himself. You may adore God with the 
adoration of His own Incarnate Son and of all the saints, 
praise Him with their praise, love Him with their love, 
render thanks to Him with their thanks, pray to Him with 
their petitions, and suffer for Him with their patience. 
You may rejoice that they have served God with such love 
and devotion, and offer up this faithful service in atonement 
for your neglect and indolence. In this manner, you 
may participate in the fruit of all these numerous and 
perfect works, and secure a higher degree of God s pleas 
ure. But what an inexhaustible treasure have you then 
found for the increase of grace within you ! How easy is 
it, then, for you to be enriched with grace daily and 
hourly, without any other trouble but the recollection that 
you may make this offering a hundred times every day, 
without neglecting in the least your business and daily 
labor ! 

Let us adore this Divine Providence, let us honor and 
embrace this infinite Goodness, which prepares so many 

434 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

and such easy means for our daily advancement in grace, 
and thereby in sanctity and perfection ! How rare would 
this advance be, if God s liberality were less great, if His 
wisdom took less pains to overwhelm the just with secret 
benefits and hidden favors in order to render them still 
more just ! Yet it would seem as if the greater number 
of Christians were more negligent in acquiring a higher 
degree of grace, precisely because God had made this ac 
quisition so easy. Let us at least be no longer of this un 
grateful number, and if we are not induced by our own ad 
vantage to seek the precious gifts of God, let us seek them 
in order not to be guilty of the meanest ingratitude towards 
our Creator ! 

6. This ingratitude would be aggravated by the fact 
that we could not pretend the excuse of forgetfulness for 
our negligence. Eor God, by His actual graces, incessant 
ly rouses the soul from its torpor and urges it on to activi 
ty and progress. By these graces He points out to it how 
far it is still removed from its end, what a distance it has 
still to overcome, what a height it still has to climb, and 
points out also the means by which it may approach this 
end. Yea, He supports its foot, that it may hasten its 
steps, directs and strengthens its hand, that it may seize 
His gifts. If we still withstand, if we still will persist in 
our torpor and sluggishness, we indeed deserve to be robbed 
of all His gifts. 

Instead of opposing our progress in grace so foolishly, 
or rather so perversely, ought we not rather to seek every 
means of furthering this progress, and especially not only 
to improve these actual graces, but endeavor to obtain them 
in ever greater abundance ? Actual grace is for the growth 
of the soul what sunshine and rain are for the growth of 
the plant ; with this difference, however, that rain and sun 
shine influence the growth of the plant immediately, 
whilst the illuminations and inspirations of the Holy Ghost 
further the growth of grace only mediately. Actual grace, 
namely, leads us to produce the good works as fruits of 

Continual Progress in the Life of Grace. 435 

sanctifying grace, and by these fruits, then, sanctifying 
grace is again fed and increased. Without actual grace, 
our soul, though endowed with sanctifying grace, would 
remain cold, Barren, and fruitless, and could not even give 
a sign of life, much less grow and increase. 

The Holy Ghost dispenses the rays of His heavenly 
light and the rain of His beneficent assistance among all 
the just, as the sun and the clouds let their blessings de 
scend upon all living plants. But if we wish to progress 
in grace more easily and speedily, we must endeavor to se 
cure not only His general care and solicitude, but a very 
special and particular one. For as plants grow more quick 
ly and luxuriously when, besides the rain, they are irri 
gated by the gardener, and placed in a hot-house to receive 
a greater degree of heat, so will grace develop in the soul 
more beautifully and abundantly, if we place it under the 
special and particular care of the Holy Ghost. This we 
can do best by inviting the Holy Ghost in humble prayer, 
to take the place of gardener in our soul, and by incessant 
ly beseeching Him to diffuse in it ever greater light 
and strength. No prayer will be more certainly heard 
than such prayer. The Holy Ghost will joyfully accept 
this position and will bestow a tender care upon us, in pro 
portion as our prayer is ardent, confident, and persevering. 
He Himself has the greatest desire to further our progress, 
and waits only until we dispose ourselves by such prayer 
for His particular assistance. 

Without this prayer we are scarcely disposed for His 
special assistance, because we express no desire for it ; we 
are like the plants that keep their flower-cups closed. 
In prayer only we open the flower-cup of the soul, to im 
bibe the heavenly dew of the Holy Ghost and absorb His 
blissful rays. In prayer only we open our mouth to 
breathe the life-breath of the Holy Ghost, as the Psalmist 
says : " I opened my month and panted." If progress in 
grace necessarily requires good works, and good works 

1 Ps. cxviii. 131. 

43 6 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

again presuppose prayer, then prayer must likewise be an 
essential and a most necessary condition of this progress. 

Well, then, my dear Christian, seize with both hands 
these two means, which the goodness of God offers to you, 
and progress in grace, according to the Divine command : 
He that is just, let him be justified still." * To encourage 
you in this progress, the Son of God, although He pos 
sessed in His humanity from the beginning the fulness of 
wisdom, sanctity, and grace, would, nevertheless, reveal it 
gradually only, just as the sun, without increasing in light 
itself, develops its splendor gradually from morning till 
midday. You do not, of yourself, possess the light of 
grace ; therefore, you must progress in reality as our Lord 
did in appearance. Endeavor, then, with the assistance of 
God, to increase "in wisdom, virtue, and grace with God 
and men." God s blessing will not be wanting to you, if 
you only confide in Him. 

"Blessed is the man," says the royal Psalmist, 2 " wliuxc 
help is from Thee, God; in his heart he hath disposed 
to ascend by steps. For the laiv-giver shall give a blessing ; 
they shall go from virtue to virtue, the God of gods shall be 
seen in Sion" i. e., until after their assumption into Heav 
en, the vision of God will be the reward of their aspira 

Apoc. xxii. 11. 2 Ps. Ixxxiii. 6, 


How Careful we should be not to Stain and Dis 
honor Grace by Venial Sin. 


|F we are in the state of grace, it is becoming that 
we should increase and augment it ; but it 
is far more obligatory upon us to keep it pure 
and unsullied, and especially to preserve it from destruc 
tion. By mortal sin we lose grace, by venial sin, however, 
we stain it and prepare the way for its complete destruc 
tion. Therefore we shall speak in the two following chap 
ters of the guarding and preserving of sanctifying grace, 
and first of protecting it against venial sin. 

Many think that, as mortal sin entirely destroys grace, 
so venial sin diminishes it, so that we gradually lose those 
degrees of grace which we have already acquired by the lib 
erality of God and our own merits. But we may hold, in 
accordance with nearly all theologians, that venial sins, 
neither singly nor collectively, essentially diminish the 
grace already acquired and the supernatural virtues even 
by one degree. 

The natural virtues and the corresponding acceptability 
of the soul to God are diminished not only by grave, but 
also by slight faults. For as these virtues are acquired and 
increased by the exercise of their acts, so they are weakened 
by the omission of these acts and still more by the practice 
of contrary acts. They are like the base metals, which are 
not only stained by contact with dirt, but are decomposed 
and dissolved. 

Now, in as far as the supernatural virtues are similar to 
the natural virtues, that is, in as far as with them too a fa- 

43 8 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

cility of exercise is acquired by diligent practice, in so far 
they also are weakened and diminished by venial sins. 
But since this facility of exercise is only an extrinsic, ac 
cidental perfection of these virtues, and does not constitute 
their essence, this weakening and diminution cannot affect 
their essence. They are like pure and solid gold, which may 
be covered with dirt and immersed in it, but cannot there 
by be decomposed in its essence, or even lose one degree of 
its intrinsic purity and beauty. They are like a powerful, 
unquenchable fire, that may be covered with incombustibles 
and then cannot burn as briskly and strongly, but can in 
nowise be deprived of its intrinsic heat. 

As the strength of the supernatural virtues is not essen 
tially diminished by venial sin, so neither the splendor of 
grace and the corresponding acceptability of our soul to God 
and the merit of our works. This is true already because 
grace is the source of these supernatural virtues. By 
venial sin we offend God as our greatest and best Friend, 
we merit His displeasure and deserve a great punishment. 
But this displeasure of God may very well co-exist with 
grace and with a high degree of grace. The offence is 
sufficiently punished if God imposes different penalties up 
on us for it and especially if He withholds from us for a time 
His beatific vision. At the same time, He may withhold 
many favors, which He had intended for us, but He need 
not, on that account, take away from us any degree of grace 
that we already possessed. If, therefore, a man have com 
mitted ever so many venial sins, he retains the claim to the 
same degree of heavenly glory as before, and his works are 
as pleasing to God and as meritorious as before, though he 
may, at the same time, have accumulated many demerits. 
The gold of grace in him is no less precious because it is 
covered with much dirt and mixed with much chaff. The 
stain may be washed off by tears of penance, the chaff be 
consumed by fire. Then we should stand again before 
God with all the undiminished treasure of grace, which we 
had acquired before or at the time of these venial sins. 

How Careful of Grace we should be. 439 

2. Though we need not fear, then, that venial sin will 
destroy or diminish in us the treasure of grace which we 
possess, shall we, therefore, be less on our guard against it, 
or hate and detest it less ? God forbid ! On the contrary, 
for that very reason must we admire the infinite love of 
God for us, who does not even withdraw His grace from us, 
when we soil and stain it, and we ought, out of gratitude, 
to beware in future of such an outrage ! 

From this we may best learn the preciousness and sancti 
ty of grace, from this we may see how little grace has in 
common with sin and every imperfection, and how solicitous 
we ought to be to keep it pure and unstained ! For if it 
were not so essentially pure and holy, if it were not an em 
anation of Divine light, if it were not as purest gold, it 
would certainly be decomposed and rendered inferior by 
sin ; that it is not so affected, is due not to any insignifi 
cance of sin, but to its own invulnerable, heavenly nature. 
Yea, that same purity and holiness which renders the co 
existence of grace and mortal sin impossible, is the cause 
of its not being affected by venial sin ; so that we are in 
debted for this blessed fact not to sin, but to grace. 

If iron is not only externally stained by dirt, as gold is, 
but is also internally corroded, it is because the nature of 
iron is not so superior to every union with filth as gold is. 
But is the stain upon gold less objectionable than upon 
iron ? By no means. Iron is not so deformed by this 
stain, because its nature is not so inconsistent with it ; or 
rather, precisely because the stain eats into it and mixes 
with it. The stain upon gold, however, appears far more 
ugly, because it cannot mix with the gold arid unite with 
its essence ; and thus the glaring contrast between the 
bright gold and the filthy stain is all the more conspicuous. 
When the stain does not destroy the brightness and can 
not even harm it, then it appears most ugly and abhorrent. 

The less, therefore, grace is corroded and diminished by 
venial sin, the purer is its nature, and the more detestable 
is it to bring it into contact with the stain of sin. It is 

44-O The Glories of Divine Grace. 

detestable beyond expression to drag the golden ornaments 
of the spouse of God into the mire of sin. It is an incon 
ceivably detestable act to asperse the golden vestment of 
the children of God with filth and dust, when it cannot lose 
its shining brightness. 

How much., then, should we abhor venial sin, though it 
cannot diminish grace, or rather for that very reason, 
since it disfigures our soul the more on that account ! As 
the eye instantly attempts to reject even the smallest for 
eign body that would enter into it, and if it is not success 
ful, becomes very uneasy, so should our soul oppose every 
venial sin and not rest until it had expelled it. A lifeless 
mirror does not object to the dirt thrown upon it. But 
our soul is by the grace of God a living mirror of the Di 
vine sanctity, an eye enlightened and purified by Divine 
light. Oh, that we always preserved it full of life and 
brightness ! Would that we were all eye, like the myster 
ious animals in the Apocalypse, which were covered with a 
thousand eyes upon all sides ! How easily we should then 
keep aloof from every dust and stain ! 

Let us imitate the doves, which are always extremely care 
ful to preserve their snowy white plumage clean and unsul 
lied, and therefore avoid all things and places by which it 
might be stained. For the soul in the state of grace is like 
wise a dove, whose silvery plumage appears as purest gold 
in the splendor of the Divine sun, a dove, which the Holy 
Ghost will bear up from the filthy depths of this earth to 
the pure and bright mountain tops of Heaven. Let us not 
then crawl upon the earth, let us not cling to earthly 
things, let us tear ourselves loose from them, whenever pos 
sible, and let us touch them as lightly as the dove, when 
we must be occupied with them. And if, perhaps from 
carelessness or incautiousness, we have permitted our wings 
to be stained, let us immediately shake off the dust and hast 
en to be cleansed again in the streams of the blood of Christ. 

3. Besides the stain, venial sin produces two other effects 
very harmful to grace. Though it does not essentially 

How Careful of Grace we should be. 44 1 

diminish grace, it weakens its fervor and fertility, as St. 
Thomas teaches, and on the other hand gradually in 
duces its complete destruction. On the one part, venial 
sins are prickly thorns, that prevent a happy growth of 
the life of grace ; on the other, gnawing insects, that bite 
through its roots, and loosen more and more the soil of our 
soul, wherein grace is implanted. 

Indeed, he who commits many venial sins withdraws 
himself from the influence of grace, and even opposes it, 
represses it, smothers thereby its flame, so that it cannot 
burn brightly, smothers its vitality, so that it cannot devel 
op after the tendency of its nature. Where so many pois 
onous weeds grow up beside it in wildest luxuriance, there 
the heavenly germ of grace cannot prosper. Their prox 
imity deteriorates its soil, infects its atmosphere. They 
deteriorate its soil, because they employ our whole activity 
and absorb our whole strength ; they infect its atmosphere, 
because the Holy Ghost withdraws the light and dew of 
His gracious assistance from this soil, which is covered with 
weeds, and thus would frustrate all His beneficent action. 
In this manner the growth of grace is greatly retarded and 
impeded by venial sin, and this alone were an incalculable 
harm, great enough to induce us to detest it from the bot 
tom of our heart. Let us not delay, therefore, to root out 
these poisonous weeds to the last fibre, lest the fire of grace 
should become extinct in us and its fertility die out. 

What is far worse, however, venial sins, as already stated, 
undermine the roots of grace and loosen them until they 
are finally torn out altogether. For although only mortal 
sin cuts off the roots of grace in us, and venial sins can 
never amount to a mortal sin, yet the terrible sword of 
mortal sin could not eas-ily penetrate into our soul, if ve 
nial sins had not prepared the way. As sickness precedes 
death, so venial sins precede mortal sin. Not as if grace 
could become diseased, this is as impossible as that it 
should be essentially decomposed and diminished but be 
cause venial sin weakens and paralyzes the influence of 

44 2 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace upon our nature, just as the body, by the disturbance 
and destruction of its organs, is made an unfit instrument 
of the soul. What the organs of the body are for the soul, 
the natural faculties and inclinations of the soul are for 
grace. As in the body a disturbance of the- vital organs, 
if not arrested and corrected in the beginning, must lead 
to the necessary dissolution of soul and body, so venial 
sins estrange our nature ever more from grace and with 
draw it from the influence and control of grace, by turning 
the natural faculties away from God and towards creatures, 
and thus giving them a perverse direction. Then it re 
quires bat the least additional pressure to sever the last tie 
that unites nature and grace. 

It is true, only mortal sin can directly affect grace, 
but venial sins, too, always remain sins and are kindred 
and allied to mortal sin. They storm against the temple 
of grace within us, though powerless against it ; they can 
only stain it and undermine its foundations ; yet they are 
the vanguard of a more powerful enemy, who follows close 
upon them and easily completes their work of destruction. 

Is not this sufficient, Christian reader, to make you de 
test venial sin as a most dangerous enemy of grace? Is 
not this a far greater harm than if they only deprived you 
of some degrees of grace ? And if this be so, how can 
you so inconsiderately enter into friendship with these de 
ceitful enemies, who deprive you of everything whilst they 
pretend to deprive you of nothing ? They are less noticed 
and feared because they appear insignificant, but they are 
on that account more dangerous, because they carry on 
their work of destruction in a more undisturbed manner. 
Therefore, hate them, flee from them, destroy them. 
Hate them as your own greatest enemies. 

4. But hate them still more because they deeply offend 
God, your best Father, your most loving Friend, your sweet 
est Spouse. In the state of grace you are more obliged 
than ever to love Him and give Him pleasure. In this 
state you are so intimately united to Him, so overwhelmed 

How Careful of Grace we should be. 443 

with His benefits and favors, that your heart ought to 
breathe only love and gratitude for Him. How must it 
offend Him, then, if in many things you deny Him your 
dutiful service, even though you do not renounce His 
friendship ? How much must it displease Him if you with 
draw your filial obedience and reverence from Him, even 
though you do not desert His paternal bosom ? How 
much must it grieve your heavenly Spouse if } T OU do not 
preserve yourself pure and holy, if you cast a longing 
glance towards His enemies, even though you do not tear 
yourself loose from His loving embrace ? And what makes 
this crime greater and this ingratitude meaner is your 
knowledge that even thus He will not withdraw from yon 
one degree of His grace ! 

Oh, when will you recognize the unspeakable baseness 
that lies in one single venial sin ? When will you begin to 
serve God with more fidelity and zeal, and render all your 
actions pleasing to Him, after He has made you an object 
of His pleasure by His grace ? 

But if you will not be induced to do this out of gratitude 
and love for Him, be induced thereto at least by the fear 
of the terrible punishments which He visits upon such in 
gratitude and baseness. These punishments are, indeed, 
inestimably and inconceivably great, and must be so great 
because your sins are inconceivably great. Because the 
holy fire of grace could not exclude this sin from your heart, 
or rather because this fire was repressed by sin, therefore, 
God must kindle an equally supernatural fire of revenge to 
consume these stains in your soul ; a fire such as all created 
nature knows and can produce as little as the fire of grace, 
a fire which only the powerful and glowing love of God 
could invent and create to cleanse His favored souls from 
these stains. But why do I speak of this fire of revenge ? 
Far more terribly will you be tormented by the fire of 
grace itself, when God does not immediately after death 
admit you to the beatific vision of His Divine nature. 
Then the fire of grace will kindle in you such a desire, such 

444 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

a burning thirst for this vision, which is the natural end of 
grace, that this pain will cause you to forget every other 
pain, and would immediately consume you, did not the 
hand of God support you. And this pain will be greater 
in proportion as you supposed yourself near your happi- 
. ness and in proportion to the degree of heavenly glory 
which awaited you in Heaven. 

Oh, hasten, then, to extinguish this terrible fire by the 
tears of true penance, and to collect no more chaff in your 
soul to feed this flame ! Hasten now to fan the mild flame 
of grace and Divine love in you, and to consume by it all 
stain, to keep away from your soul all chaff of sin, and to 
burn it immediately upon its appearance ! Thus you will 
keep grace pure and unsullied, you will not only preserve 
it from destruction, but will constantly increase it and im 
mediately after death enjoy its fruit. 

The Preservation of Grace until the End. 


LL our efforts to obtain grace and to increase it 
were in vain,, if we did not preserve it and espec 
ially preserve it until the end of our life, so 
that we may appear with it before the throne of God. 
Then only is grace perfectly ours, if it is ours forever, then 
only does grace perfectly make us children of God, when we 
are no longer in danger of degenerating from this dignity, 
when we return with it to the bosom of our heavenly 
Father, to possess Him and to be His forever. Then only 
will we derive salvation from grace and enjoy its highest, 
eternal fruit, if thenceforth we do not destroy its living 
germ in us. Aye, its loss would only be more ignominious 
and ruinous for us, than if we had never possessed it. 

Let us, then, think of preserving this precious treasure 
with the greatest solicitude, especially since we bear it, as 
the Apostle says, " in earthen vessels." The earthen vessel 
of the heavenly treasure of grace is our poor, weak, earth 
ly nature, in which God has deposited and poured out His 
grace, and this vessel is as frail as the treasure which it 
contains is holy and precious. As much as our nature in its 
nobler part, which is the natural image of God, is suscep 
tible of grace and embraces and holds it as its highest good 
and as the source of Divine happiness, so much is it in its 
lower elements foreign, even hostile to grace, and seeks 
to expel it from the soul, so that it be undisturbed in the 
full and unimpaired gratification of its self-love and sensu 
al pleasure. This lower part, then, by seeking to draw 
down to its own level and to subject to itself the higher 

446 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

nature, draws the will of man away from grace, and grace 
no longer finds a place where it may rest quietly and se 
curely. Instead of being cherished with tender love, it is 
repelled and its beneficent balsam is thrown away. Our 
nature, then, instead of uniting and concentrating all its 
faculties for the purpose of holding grace, divides them in 
its attachment to earthly things, divides itself thereby, and 
loses the precious treasure which it bore in its bosom. 
Thus the preservation of grace is rendered very difficult 
and almost impossible for us ; the more so, since our vessel 
is not only weak and frail, but exposed to a thousand ene 
mies, who will destroy and rob it. For the world and the 
devil constantly surround us with the hostile intention of 
wresting this treasure from us, now by covert theft, now 
by open assault. 

On the other hand, this treasure is itself the best protec 
tion for its preservation. Grace is a heavenly balsam, 
which heals the frailty of our nature it hallows, purifies, 
and strengthens the vessel that contains it. Like the oil, 
it is easily spilt ; but by its unction it refreshes and 
strengthens us against our enemies, as well as against our 
own weakness and misery. Nevertheless, it is essentially 
necessary that we carefully guard our treasure and its ves 
sel, and have it guarded by reliable custodians. 

2. In the first place, we must ourselves guard it, that is, 
with solicitude, caution, with all possible zeal, aye, with a 
holy jealousy must we take care of it and ward off its ene 
mies. We must keep it clean with the greatest care, lest 
anything unclean enter which would expel grace there 
from, and must carry it about cautiously, lest it collide 
with a stone and be shattered to pieces. We must guard 
against the secretly growing evil inclinations and habits, 
which gradually infect our soul and dislodge grace from 
it. We must guard against the proximate, and even 
against the remote occasions of mortal sin, lest we be sud 
denly surprised and overwhelmed by a superior force of 
the enemy, before we could make uso of our weapons. 

Preservation of Grace until the End. 447 

But if the enemy attacks us openly and with great force, 
if, notwithstanding our precaution, the concupiscence of the 
flesh bursts forth in high flame, if the world and its seduc 
tive charms will throw the noose about our neck, if the 
hellish dragon threatens, to devour us ; then we must 
courageously defend our treasure in open, heroic battle ; 
then we must fear no sacrifice, no pain, no wound for its 
preservation. We must not hesitate to risk even our lives 
in defence of our Divine dignity, our crown, our throne, 
our heavenly kingdom. As the serpent, says St. John 
Chrysostom, exposes its whole body only to save its l^ad, 
so must we be ready to expose everything, our whole nature 
and all that is dear to it, if we only save grace, because 
grace will one day make good a hundred-fold all the sacri 
fices that we have made for its sake. 

But our own custody will not suffice to guard and de 
fend securely our precious treasure, considering the frailty 
of our nature and the power of our enemies. Therefore, 
our Divine Saviour tells us : " Watch ye and pray, that 
ye enter not into temptation. By prayer, and that by per 
severing, earnest, and confident prayer, we must call 
other sentinels to our aid, who may assist our frailty as 
well as destroy the power of our enemy, and we must beg 
them to place our treasure in some securer place than we 
can afford it. Let us first beseech the holy angels, whom 
God has given His children as a royal body-guard, that 
they might bear us and our treasure up in their hands, lest 
we dash our foot against a stone, and lest we take harm 
walking upon the asp and the basilisk. They will come 
to our assistance with the greatest readiness. They are 
equal and superior to the infernal lion, that goes about 
seeking to devour us. They will undertake the fight for 
us, and will gain for us a glorious victory. They will ex 
pose the secret snares of the enemy and will destroy them, 
before we think of avoiding them. With flaming sword 
they will station themselves before the door of our soul as 
before Paradise, to guard the tree of life in us, which is 

448 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

grace, lest it be touched and robbed by unhallowed hands. 

Let us, then, also commend our soul and its treasure to 
the maternal bosom of the Mother of God, who is likewise 
the Mother of grace and of all the children of God. Her 
bosom is the sealed fountain, which was neither infected 
by the poison of human frailty, nor accessible to the prince 
of darkness. In her our nature was restored to its origi 
nal purity and strength, in her the power of hell was 
crushed. If we have recourse to this sanctuary, if we hide 
in it, we shall infallibly triumph over our frailty ; we too 
shall place our foot upon the head of the hellish dragon,, 
and it will in vain lie in wait for our as for her heel. 
Mary will receive us unto her bosom with truly maternal 
tenderness, because we come to conceal in it that precious 
jewel for which she gave the precious blood of her Son, 
which had flown in her own veins, and offered her heart 
to the heavenly Father in the flames of most fervent love 
and of most cruel pain. 

We will do still better to commend our soul and its 
treasure of grace to the Divine Heart of the Son of Mary, 
to the heart of Jesus Christ. For grace is nothing else 
than the price of that most sacred blood which flowed 
from this Heart, it is, as it were, itself the blood of a Di 
vine life, which we draw from the Divine Heart of the Son 
of God, by which we live in Him and of Him, so that no 
longer we live, but Christ lives in us. Oh, how tenderly 
and lovingly will the Divine Saviour, if we entreat Him, pre 
serve in us that treasure for which He has paid so dearly, 
preserve in us that life which He Himself lives in us ! How 
lovingly will Christ receive our grace into His heart, and 
nurse and cherish it, after He has shed for it His heart s 
blood to the last drop ! And how secure shall we know our 
treasure in this holy and inviolable vessel ! What enemy 
will dare to wrest it from this sanctuary ? What power 
can approach it, what cunning can enter it? How can 
even the frailty of our own vessel harm us, as long as we 
keep it enclosed with our treasure in this holy tower which 

Preservation of Grace until the End. 449 

repairs and protects our frailty by its solidity, our weak 
ness by its Divine power ? 

Let us finally commend our treasure to the arms, to the 
bosom, to the heart of our heavenly Father, who has pre 
sented it to us. As He has raised us on His arms from the 
depths of His nature, has regenerated us of His bosom, and 
pressed us to His heart as His children, so will He guard 
and preserve us this grace of sonship, especially if we earn 
estly beg it of Him. Our treasure is His treasure ; it is 
the fruit of His bosom, the price of the blood of His only- 
begotten Son, the end of all His works ; it is the most pre 
cious thing that He has given us and that He Himself 
possesses in us. Therefore, he will also preserve it with 
His own infinite power, love, and wisdom ; He will guard 
us with it as the apple of His eye, as He has assured us 
through the Prophet Zacharias : " He that toucheth you, 
toucheth the apple of My eye." But if we are so secure al 
ready in the hands of His angels, in the bosom of His 
spouse, in the heart of His Son, how secure shall we be in 
His own eye ! How carefully will His all-seeing eye watch 
over us, how effectually will His omnipotent hand protect 
us, how tenderly will His love hold us embraced ! 

Let us, therefore, watch and pray without ceasing ; 
watch in holy fear of our own weakness and of the power 
of sin, and pray with holy confidence in the watchful pro 
tection of the angels, of Mary, of the Son of God, and of 
the heavenly Father Himself. 

3. "He that tliinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest 
he fall," says the Apostle ; 2 and again: te With fear and 
trembling, work out your salvation. For it is God who 
worketh in you both to will and to accomplish, according to 
His good will." These words are very remarkable and 
express a great mystery ; the reason which the Apostle in 
dicates for our fear is at the same time the reason of our 
hope and firm confidence. We should work out our salva 
tion with fear and trembling, because the will and the ac- 

1 Zach. ii. 8. 2 I. Cor. x. 12. 3 Phil. ii. 12, 13. 

450 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

compliahment depend upon the grace of God ; on this 
account we must endeavor always to co-operate faithfully 
with the grace of God, lest God withdraw it from us, and 
leave us to ourselves, in which case we could do nothing 
more for our salvation. On the other hand, if it is God 
who works in us the will and the accomplishment, if God, 
as the Apostle says in another place, 1 " as He ivho hath 
begun a good ivork in you will perfect it unto the clay of 
Christ Jesus, " then we need not despair on account of our 
own frailty ; then we are certain that by co-operating with 
the assistance of God, we shall infallibly preserve grace in 
us and arrive at its happy end. 

In like manner we must tremblingly fear the mystery 
of God s predestination and pre-election. For, as it is God 
who works salvation in us, so it is He who predestines us 
for its attainment. " You have not chosen me, " says our 
Lord, 2 " but I have chosen you. " Therefore we must be 
extremely careful not to frustrate the intentions of God 
with us, not to depart from the ways by which He will lead 
us, otherwise we shall not attain to our end. We know, 
likewise, however, that, as He has called us to the grace of 
His sonship, and to the inheritance of Heaven, so He will, 
with infallible certainty, preserve that grace in us and lead 
us to this inheritance, if only we do not forsake Him. As 
God wills that all men be saved and as He calls every one 
unto salvation, it rests with us only to respond to His call 
and to realize His pre-election in us. Whence St. Peter 
admonishes us : 3 " Labor, brethren, that by good works 
you may make sure your calling and election." As long 
as we let grace bear fruit in good works, as long as we 
preserve it from sin and by earnest prayer commend our 
selves to the hands of God, so long we are of the elect, of 
whom St. Paul says, that to them all things work together 
unto good, and that God will glorify them, as He has called 
and justified them. As long as we are faithful to God, He 
is faithful to us, according to the words of the Apostle : 4 

1 Phil. i. 6. 2 John xv. 16. 3 II. Peter i. 10. * 

Preservation of Grace until the End. 45 1 

" God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted 
above that which you are able, but ivill make also with 
temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it." "For 
the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance ; " 
that is, the vocation and the grace which He has once 
given us He does not withdraw again, except we neglect 
and reject them. 

We may and must,, then, have the firmest assurance that 
we can preserve grace until the end and by it hereafter at 
tain to eternal happiness. Let us not forget the words of 
the Apostle : 2 " Know you, not, that they that run in the 
race all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize ? So rim 
that you may obtain. " Let us also be mindful of the ad 
monition of the Son of God in the Apocalypse : 3 "Hold 
fast that which, thou hast, that no man take thy crown." 

If we only once lose grace again, we are in danger of 
dying in this condition, and of never recovering it. We 
have then to fear that God will remove our candlestick, 
upon which we have extinguished the light of grace, out 
of its place, as God in the Apocalypse threatened the bish 
op of Ephesus ; that He will forever take away our talent, 
and give it to another, who will more faithfully preserve 
and invest it, 

God has no need of us, much less can we dictate to Him 
how to dispense His grace. As He rejected the people of 
Israel, when they had made themselves unworthy of all the 
favors with which He had overwhelmed them, and in their 
stead called the heathens unto His kingdom of grace ; as 
He elected the shepherd-boy David in place of the disobe 
dient Saul, the penitent thief in place of the traitor Judas, 
the unbelieving and worldly-minded Augustine for the 
proud monk Pelagius, the poor Indians for the apostate 
nations of Europe, so He will perhaps reject us and give 
our place to another soul, which we perhaps supposed to be 

Rom. xi. x.9. 2 I. Cor. ix. 24. 3 Apoc. iii. 11. 

45 2 The Glories of Divine Grace. 

Oh, what confusion were it for us, on the day of judg 
ment,, if we beheld others occupying the throne and wear 
ing the crown which were intended for us, and to which 
we had already acquired a claim by grace ! This confu 
sion alone would be a new hell for us, especially if we con 
sidered how many merits we had already acquired, how 
wantonly we had forfeited this treasure, and how easily we 
might, with the help of God, have preserved and increased 

Therefore, "hold fast that ivhich thou hast, that no man 
take thy crown. 9 Preserve grace as a favor, as an un 
merited, exceedingly precious gift of Divine goodness. Pre 
serve it in humility, without becoming conceited, without 
boasting of your pre-eminence, and despising others. .Pre 
serve it with humble gratitude towards God, for nothing 
makes you more unworthy of His grace than ingratitude. 
Preserve it with wholesome fear of your own weakness and 
faithlessness, but at the same time with a lively confidence 
in the power and fidelity of God, who has given it to you. 

Let us, in conclusion, give ear to the exhortation of the 
prince of Apostles, as we have in the beginning learnt most 
clearly from his explanation the nature and high value of 
grace : 

" Do ye all insinuate humility one to another ; for God 
resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth grace. Be 
you humbled under the mighty hand of God, that lie may 
exalt you in the time of visitation : casting all your care 
upon Him, for He hath care of you. Be sober and watch : 
because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth 
about, seeking whom he may devour : whom resist ye, strong 
in faith. . . But the God of all grace, who hath called us un 
to Ills eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after youhave suffered 
a lUlle, will Himself perfect you, and confirm you, and es 
tablish you. To Him be glory and entire forever and ever. 
Amen." 1 

1 I. Peter, v. 5-11. 


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Scheeben, M.J. 



^ The Glories of Divine 

r ffrtce. 


- 2 1949